wstrophylogo

Royals better get going here with this one, eh?

 

Image via Sportslogos.net.

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The information we’re given is scant, the source is anonymous, and there are myriad possibilities for why what we’re being told may or may not make any sense. So…

It’s here!!!! Bullshit rumour season is here!!!!

And it’s actually a somewhat interesting little nugget, to boot. Something that could unlock a whole lot of the roster turnover that Alex Anthopoulos has suggested he is excited to create this winter. If… y’know… it’s not utterly meaningless.

The rumour comes from Bob Elliott in this morning’s Toronto Sun, as he checks in from the current centre of the baseball universe, Kansas City, to tell us that the Jays have been receiving multiple phone calls on Adam Lind — and not just from American League clubs. Or, to put the exact same information another way: “I hear the Blue Jays are getting a lot of interest on Lind and not just from American League teams. I’ve heard three or four clubs,” one executive said.

Already this month I’ve fawned over Lind and the spectacular bat he brings to this lineup when facing right-handed pitching. To reiterate:

In 2014, among left-handers with 250 plate appearances in the split, Lind was tied with Michael Brantley as the best in baseball against right-handed pitching, with a 164 wRC+. In 2013 he ranked tenth. Over the last two seasons combined the “as L vs. R” leaderboard goes: David Ortiz, Freddie Freeman, Adam Lind, Robinson Cano, Chris Davis, Joey Votto.

Add in right-handed hitters — i.e. among all batters against right-handed pitching — and Lind’s wRC+ is still sixth in baseball over the last two years, with only Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, and Andrew McCutchen leapfrogging him on the list. For 2014 on its own, only Trout and McCutchen were better. Only McCutchen got on base at a better clip against right-handers.

That’s a tonne of value, narrow as it may be, especially given his contract situation. The Jays will surely pick up his $7.5-million option for 2015, and the $8-million 2016 option for the best platoon DH in the game looks pretty good, as well. “Salivating to get rid of Adam Lind this off-season just for the sake of it? Because he seems replaceable? Because of what he can’t do?” I asked, somewhat incredulously. “I don’t get it. At all.”

I haven’t changed my tune since then, but it’s not untrue that all of what makes Lind an attractive piece for us will certainly make him attractive to others. With legitimate, middle-of-the-order bats seemingly becoming less and less easy to find, maybe there’s something to be done here. And maybe it could even be in the Jays’ interest.

The Jays currently employ an aging top of the lineup — especially if Melky Cabrera returns or is replaced by an older free agent acquisition — and have a stated intent to have Jose Reyes take some days at DH, along with Edwin Encarnacion spending a lot of 2014 games at DH out of necessity rather than choice, and Jose Bautista starting 24 games at either first base or DH. Those guys aren’t likely going anywhere, and perhaps that means flexibility is more important going forward than is locking in two roster spots — one for Lind, one for his lefty-mashing caddy — to the designated hitter position. Especially if Lind can bring back an everyday player either for the outfield or for second base.

Lind’s elite production against right-handed pitching won’t be easy to replace, so the rush to unload him is still confusing to me. But opening up an extra roster spot? Opening up the DH spot? Removing one of the club’s less athletic players from the basepaths? Using him to fill one of two major holes on the roster? To upgrade team defence by creating extra room for glove-first backups to fill in when your top players shift to DH?

It could work.

So… there’s that.

ws14loho

Yes, I’m being especially intentionally lazy here this October. It’s one of the perks of covering the Jays all year, sadly.

Maybe not as lazy as whoever MLB got to design their World Series logo this year, though, eh? (Check out the great SportsLogos.net for some examples of older ones, which… actually aren’t that much better).

Anyway, yes, I’ll be ramping up the amount of content you see around here just as soon as… y’know… stuff starts happening and the rumours start flying. Should be a busy off-season. It had better be.

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In this guest post from Kyle Matte, he looks at the likelihood that Melky Cabrera will leave the Jays this winter via free agency, and offers the name of a fascinating, near-perfect replacement that few have whispering about. Follow Kyle on Twitter at @KyleMatte.

Within five days of the conclusion of the 2014 World Series, Melky Cabrera will receive and decline a Qualifying Offer from the Toronto Blue Jays. As arguably the top outfield option in a free agent market devoid of high-end talent, he’s going to get paid, and whether we like it or not, the overwhelming odds are that it’s going to be by a team located south of the border. While they’d never admit it publicly, it’s more than likely the front office has accepted this reality and is instead focusing their time and effort on something within their control: finding the replacement.

Doing so will be no easy task. While he has his flaws – namely well below average base running skills and range in the outfield – they are vastly outweighed by his strengths. Cabrera has an above average arm in left field, and while his range is poor, the balls he does get to and should catch, he catches. According to Inside Edge Fielding on Fangraphs, Melky was successful on 209/209 (100%) “routine” plays, 12/13 (92.3%) “likely” plays, and 8/12 (66.7%) “even” plays. By definition, those plays should be made 90-100%, 60-90%, and 40-60% of the time respectively, so he was above average across the board. On the other hand, he was just 1/72 on plays classified as “unlikely”, “remote”, or “impossible”, which emphasizes his limitations.

Steady and unspectacular or not, teams have never been interested in Cabrera for his glove or legs. Melky generates his value with two feet in the batter’s box.  Over his last three healthy years, the 30 year old has produced wRC+ marks of 118, 151, and 125 while hitting a combined .315. Prior to breaking his finger on September 5th, Cabrera had been one of the best table setters in the league, and a reliable force in a lineup that saw more than its fair share of ups and downs. With the reigns in center field likely being handed over to some amalgamation of the youthful trio of Anthony Gose, Kevin Pillar, and Dalton Pompey, it’s imperative that Alex Anthopoulos and friends find a reliable solution in left. With his club option expected to be declined, Nick Markakis might be the answer.

2015 Nick Markakis is not going to be 2008 Nick Markakis; that first needs to be understood and accepted. In 2008, Markakis set career highs in walk rate (14.2%), BABIP (.350), and ISO (.185), leading to an outstanding .306/.406/.491 slash line and 6.1 WAR. In each of the six years since he hasn’t eclipsed 2.5 WAR, but that’s perfectly fine. The Oriole has settled in as a non-All Star calibre starting corner outfielder with an above average bat and below average defense; not unlike the soon-to-be-departed Melky Cabrera.

In a lineup already featuring plenty of boppers, Markakis’ style would fit in damn near perfectly in the potentially vacated two-spot. Over nearly 6000 career plate appearances, Markakis has maintained a well above average .358 on base percentage thanks in no small part to an impressive 9.3% walk rate. While both are slightly inflated because of the aforementioned career year, the more recent numbers are still quite strong. In the five years from 2010 through 2014, Markakis has posted the following OBP’s: .370, .351, .363, .329, and .342. Even the low point in 2013 is above league average, and he’s well above league average in the other four. Markakis gets himself on base, and with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion hitting third and fourth respectively, getting on base is priority number one.

Once a big part of his game, Markakis has seen his power drop off precipitously over the last two seasons: in 1410 plate appearances, he hit just 76 extra base hits. Some of that can be attributed to right wrist and left thumb surgeries during the 2012 season, but the power was definitely trending downwards even before hand. While he’d be unlikely to start hitting twenty-plus home runs again, a move to the Rogers Centre would without a doubt help him in the power department. The table below shows park factors for the 2014 season, as calculated by ESPN:

Rogers Centre

Camden Yards

Home Runs

1.310

0.936

Doubles

1.107

0.935

Triples

1.333

0.636

With park factors, numbers above 1.000 indicate the environment is beneficial to hitters, while numbers below 1.000 indicate the environment is an inhibiting factor. Not only is the Rogers Centre more power-friendly than Camden Yards across the board; the differences are incredible. The launching pad formerly known as the Sky Dome saw a home run rate 37.4% higher than Camden Yards, with 17.2% more doubles, and 69.7% more triples. While you can’t simply apply these increments to Markakis’ 2014 power numbers to picture what he could do in Toronto, I think it’s fair to say he could see a boon in power.

In addition to a reliable on-base rate and a potential boost in power, Markakis has a swing and approach that would make him an ideal fit behind Jose Reyes in the lineup. He’s exceptional at making contact, with 94.7% of his swings at pitches inside the zone resulting in contact, and 84.8% of swings outside the zone resulting in contact last season. The result is a consistently low strikeout rate, with his 11.8% mark in 2014 actually being his highest since 2010. Among Blue Jays last season, only Melky and Reyes struck out at a better rate. After watching the 2014 Blue Jays, his 3.5% swinging strike rate is almost unfathomable (as a comparison, Juan Francisco had a swinging strike rate of 15.2% — he whiffed over four times as often!). John Gibbons seems like a guy who greatly prefers the hit-and-run to straight steals, and with Markakis potentially hitting second, it would be a silky smooth transition from the Melk Man.

One of Cabrera’s greatest assets is his switch-hitting nature and ability to bust hard line drives to all fields regardless of the handedness of the pitcher he’s facing. Incredibly, Markakis can do all of that, too. His 19.6% line drive rate in 2014 was his worst since 2010, as he posted marks of 23.1%, 26.8% (!!), and 22.6% from 2011 through 2013, respectively.

markakisBB

The chart above, taken from Fangraphs, shows Markakis’ batted ball profile for the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons, against both left handed and right handed pitchers. When hitting the ball on the ground (green), Markakis uses the left and right sides equally, making him very difficult to use any kind of infield shift against. In terms of line drives (red), Markakis once again uses all fields extremely well, with left field appearing to come out slightly ahead. Finally, with fly balls (blue), Markakis has a similar distribution to his line drives, with all fields being well represented and left being slightly favored. As a comparison, below are the same profiles for switch hitter Melky Cabrera (right), and traditional left handed hitter Colby Rasmus (left).

cabreraBBrasmusBB

Markakis’ profile is extremely similar to Cabrera’s and looks nothing like Rasmus’, who hits ground balls and line drives down the right field line almost exclusively. Despite batting left handed, because of his ability to go with the pitch and use all fields, teams have their hands tied and are forced to play their defenses straight up against Markakis.

He’s no world beater against lefties, but Markakis does more than enough to avoid the “platoon” label. For his career, he’s hit .288/.344/.398 against southpaws, good for a .329 wOBA and an even 100 wRC+. More recently, in 2014, Markakis had a 93 wRC+ against lefties, and in 2013, it was an 80 wRC+. While he continues to make solid contact, lefties have done a very good job of limiting his power, which is unsurprising given that as you can see on the chart above, his true power comes to his pull side. Still, this is a far cry from the Lind/Rasmus/Francisco-type lefties we’ve grown accustomed to, as that trio is literally unplayable against same side pitching. To fuel up some optimism, just three years back, in 2012, Markakis had a 139 wRC+ and .195 ISO against lefties.

In terms of UZR/150, Markakis has been a below average defender in right field in five of the last six seasons, with 2014 being the only year in which he graded positively. Still, he would represent a substantial upgrade over Cabrera, both statistically and in terms of the eye test. According to Inside Edge Fielding, while he was slightly worse than Melky at making the “even” and “likely” plays, he was significantly better at the challenging plays, turning 10/86 into outs (as a reminder, Cabrera was 1/72 on similar plays). With Jose Bautista entrenched in right field for the time being, Markakis would have to be amicable towards a shift to left field, a position he’s played for just 197.2 innings in his major league career. Without knowing him personally, it’s impossible to say whether or not that could be a roadblock.

This brings us to the finances; how much does Markakis want, how much is he actually worth, and can Toronto afford it? As mentioned at the start, Markakis has a 17.5 million dollar club option for 2015, which the Orioles are reportedly going to decline at the cost of a 2 million dollar buyout. This suggests that at least in the eyes of Baltimore, Markakis isn’t worth the net 15.5 million it would take to keep him around. The Qualifying Offer has been set at 15.3 million, so it seems doubtful they’d risk having him accept that, either. In his assessment of QO candidates earlier this month, Mike Petriello of FanGraphs agreed, and with Nelson Cruz also set to hit free agency, Baltimore’s attention and priorities likely lie elsewhere.

It’s still far too early to predict contracts given that we don’t know what the market will even look like with the option and offer decisions yet to come, but I think it’s fair to say that if the Blue Jays are or were ever serious about keeping Melky Cabrera around for a few more years, it’s probable they have the money for Markakis should he tickle their interest. I’ve been on board the “Bring Melky Back” bandwagon all year, but the more I think about Markakis, the more I think the organization as a whole could be better off with him and an extra first round draft pick. The fact they could potentially save on both term and annual salary in doing so might make the decision that much easier.

pentecost

Well here’s something you never like to hear:

He… what?

And Alexis clarifies that the surgery was to correct a partial labrum tear in his shoulder — though it’s as yet unknown whether it was his throwing or non-throwing one.

That’s… not good.

I’d say something here like “at least he’s not a pitcher,” but it’s not exactly like catchers don’t need to throw, too. Let’s not go too totally nuts, though. I’m pretty sure the level of career peril involved here is not quite the same — especially since we don’t even know yet if it’s his throwing shoulder.

In fact, according to an AP story via Fox News, Brian McCann had arthroscopic surgery for a partial labrum tear of his throwing shoulder following the 2012 season — and was given the same recovery period, four months, as Alexis tells us is the case for Pentecost — and was good as new the following year.

McCann’s shoulder problem “hampered his hitting” that season, according to the piece, as he slumped to a career low wRC+ of just 87, with a slash line of .230/.300/.399. The following year he bounced back to the tune of a 121 wRC+ and a .256/.336/.461, and his ability to control the running game appeared to actually get better (though, of course, this is dependent on other factors than just stolen base/caught stealing numbers): he was behind the plate for 104 stolen bases in 2011 (29 CS, 1083.0 innings), 76 in 2012 (24 CS, 994.2 innings), and post-surgery, just 47 in 2013 (15 CS, 806.1 innings). A more advanced metric available at FanGraphs, rSB (i.e. stolen base runs saved above average) had him as essentially stable throughout the process.

That obviously doesn’t mean that we should have no worries for Pentecost. Every shoulder is different — and you only have to do a quick Google search about labrum tears to see how disparate various players’ recovery processes have been (McCann and Curt Schilling went great, Casey Janssen and Michael Pineda took a while but eventually returned to where they left off, others haven’t been so fortunate) — and all of Pentecost’s value is tied to his being able to stay behind the plate. Anything that might hamper him in that regard could completely throw a wrench into both his career, and the Jays’ long-term plans behind the plate. Again.

And shit, while it would have been more than a little bit fanciful to hope that he could have forced his way onto the roster by the time Dioner Navarro’s contract is up at the end of this season — sure, Vancouver is the highest level he’s played at so far (and only for 19 games), but it’s still something entirely worth hoping for given the dumpster fires that appear to occupy every other spot on the Jays’ catching depth chart — this certainly is a setback in that regard, as well.

So… it’s not good news. But it’s not full-on panic kind of news either. Only time will tell.

Of course, I’m sure that won’t stop the howling about why the club drafted a guy who may have already been hurt (y’know, apart from the other guy mentioned in Alexis’s original tweet, Jeff Hoffman, who they drafted knowing full well he was hurt). But let’s maybe all just hope the recovery goes smoothly, eh?

 

Image still awesomely via Crashburn Alley.

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If you’re like me you won’t necessarily find it easy to get through all the stuff about the fabulously opulent lives of entitled, drape-wearing heirs to astronomical wealth that fuels so much of the first part of Kelly Pullen’s current Toronto Life cover story, The Man Who Would Be King, nor will you avoid a bit of nausea at the glowing terms given to Ted Rogers’ efforts to build his empire “one precarious piece at a time,” with its less-than-humble beginnings as he borrowed against the wealth of his father’s estate and was supported further by a father-in-law, a British lord. But as Jays fans it is very much worth pushing through such feelings, if you have them, because what lies inside the piece is a pretty tremendous work of journalism.

While ostensibly a piece on Uncle Ted’s son, Edward S. Rogers III, by the end of it Pullen has lifted the veil on not only Edward’s aspirations within his father’s company, but the power struggle that’s taken place within it during the years since Ted’s death, and how the company currently sees itself and where it is headed.

Even though the Jays barely rate a mention — Edward likes going to baseball games, we’re told, and the club is named as tenants of the Rogers Centre in a simple list of places and things in Toronto that bear the company’s name — it offers some important background on trying to understand the relationship between ownership and the club, and what we can potentially expect now that the days of conflicts between Edward Rogers, his sister Melinda, and former CEO Nadir Mohamed are over, with former Vodafone U.K. head Guy Laurence firmly in charge.

The results of all this digging are… actually maybe somewhat hopeful.

Here are my Coles Notes on the parts of the piece to do with the power struggle, with a slant towards all that seemed pertinent to the Jays:

- Edward was in charge of Rogers Cable in the early 2000s, and didn’t like how Mohamed came in to run mobile just as it was becoming a tremendous growth industry. At the time cable’s growth was good, but not exploding the way mobile’s was, especially after Rogers became, for a time when it first launched, the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in Canada.

- Partly due to the successes of mobile, Uncle Ted made it clear that he wanted Mohamed to run the company after his death. When that time came, Edward put his name forward as a candidate to the CEO search committee anyway. Wary of having the company founder’s son — and a member of the board of directors, and one of its biggest shareholders — looking over his shoulder, Mohamed negotiated a multimillion dollar golden parachute for himself when he was given the job. If there was ever an impasse between him and the board, and it determined that he needed to go, he’d be paid very handsomely. And, in fact, though his exit a year ago was billed publicly as a retirement, it was more the result of a failed power play — “and neither side could say for certain whether he’d quit or been let go.”

- The background to Mohamed’s departure is this: Both members of the Rogers family who are involved in the business (Ed and Melinda) bristled at the new hierarchies Mohamed imported when he arrived. The Rogers siblings lost power, and people from Mohamed’s mobile division got better jobs than those from Edward’s cable division when the two were merged. In response to this, we’re told that Edward and Melinda intentionally created confusion among other employees (especially because of their status as primary shareholders) by disagreeing with Nadir, snubbing mandatory meetings, etc.

- That wasn’t his only difficulty. From Pullen’s piece: “Mohamed’s role became more challenging as the competitive advantages Rogers had enjoyed began to disappear. Bell, for years the most lumbering, bureaucratic organization in the country, now had a new CEO, George Cope, who was on a mission to make the company more nimble. In 2008, Bell and Telus teamed up to build a new national wireless network that would give their customers the same roaming capabilities as Rogers (as well as access to the iPhone). And the effects of the federal government’s 2008 decision to open the market to other wireless carriers were now becoming clear: the new entrants, whose operations were mainly centred in Toronto, had taken a bite out of Rogers’ business. The years of unbridled growth at Rogers had led to a kind of complacency within the company and a lack of investment in itself. Its internal software systems (for customer or tech support, for example) were in need of upgrading. Even the company’s branding seemed stuck in the ’90s.”

- In 2011, the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan put their stake in MLSE for sale, which ended up being “ the only major acquisition Rogers made during Mohamed’s tenure,” despite the fact that, to his mind, ”buying a sports team wasn’t on strategy. Rogers was in the ­connectivity business, not the ego-driven, high-risk sports ownership business. His solution: mitigate the risk. He and George Cope agreed to a joint bid of $1.32 billion and split MLSE 50-50.”

- The split with Bell on MLSE happened “much to the chagrin of the family, who were growing tired of sitting on the sidelines. Edward and Melinda were especially disappointed: they had wanted all of OTPP’s stake.”

- Not long after that deal was secured, Mohamed proposed a five year plan to the board of directors that would have cut both Edward and Melinda Rogers out of the company hierarchy. It’s painted in the piece as Mohamed trying to force the board’s hand: to either give him the company or the golden parachute. They chose the latter.

- Given the timing of everything that has happened between the club and ownership — the Jays’ late 2012 expenditures came before Mohamed’s retirement was announced, and the money seemed to dry up as soon as he left– his departure is sometimes viewed as a pivotal, and negative moment for the club, but considering Mohamed’s supposed aversion to his company’s heavy involvement in sports world, despite the opposite public face, I’m not sure that’s necessarily the right reading.

- Rogers’ massive NHL rights deal was announced almost a year ago, as Mohamed’s tenure was winding down. According to the piece, the company was essentially between CEO’s, though this was a time when Edward had “the new locus of power, and people began buzzing around his office more.” Despite Ed perhaps feeling that the time was right for him to take his rightful place atop the company his father had built — something the piece suggests he still wants now, as he “stands offstage, waiting in the wings, eager to restore the family name” — it’s at this point that Guy Laurence enters the picture and takes over as CEO.

- Laurence was a compelling figure, made it clear that he badly wanted the job, was liked by a Rogers family he was keen to ingratiate himself to, and it was thought that “his radical management ideas sounded like just what was needed to rejuvenate the Rogers brand.” He began his tenure in December of last year, precisely around the time the picture seemed to change for the Blue Jays, whose talk of needing to add multiple players shifted into revenue-neutral deals and the sound of crickets. Laurence’s first order of business was to get to know the company as best he could, so he went on a listening tour.

- From Pullen: “While he was conducting interviews and town hall meetings, Laurence kept his own counsel. He was sphinx-like—­listening to everybody but confiding in no one. In late April, he compiled his report, a 20,000-word document he presented to the board. The findings weren’t entirely surprising, but they put the internal issues like poor customer service into high relief. Everyone was worried the company had lost its way, that it had become slow and risk-averse. Dispirited employees were envious of Telus, with its slick branding and high customer retention rates. They were tired of working for the most loathed company in Canada.”

-  The fact alone that they hired Laurence in part on the basis of upper management’s concern for the brand — unlike the complacent preceding years — would seem good news for Jays fans given what should be obvious about how a well-funded and successful club would reflect on ownership, as opposed to the perception that currently persists. Something else to be hopeful for, if one can allow oneself to read it that way: the company may have been in a minor state of paralysis while Laurence did his listening tour and compiled his strategy report. That may not mean anything for a piece of the puzzle as small as the baseball team — perhaps not as much as the sinking Canadian dollar — but if it didn’t impact their operating budget directly last winter, it may have impacted their willingness to ask for more.

- Two things that have characterized Rogers’ ownership of the club as much as anything have been their aversion to risk — especially financially, and especially when it comes to fears of throwing good money after bad the way that seems necessary as long as they’re not going to have the patience for a sustained, lengthy, brutal rebuild — and the way the team’s fortunes and actions — the lack of spending, the lying company men at the top if the organization, the failure to move faster on the turf issue that has been painfully obvious at least since free agent Carlos Beltran spurned them following the 2011 season (though, really, since Troy Glaus forced his way out of town in 2007), the astonishingly tone deaf placement of the Ted Rogers statue outside the park, etc. — have made the parent company appear utterly loathsome. If Laurence wants to be less risk averse and is more brand conscious, even if they’re a minor blip on his radar, this could turn out to be a good thing for the Jays.

- There is another possibility, though, and not a particularly good one: interestingly, despite the good relations and quick ingratiation, once Laurence came in he made the same sort of power play that Mohamed did, trying to remove the Rogers family from the day-today operation of the business. And this time the board complied. Along with outside-the-box thinking, Laurence is known best for cost-cutting, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for the company’s baseball club — or anyone but its shareholders, really. It doesn’t help either that moving Edward farther away from the centre of power removes someone who actually likes baseball, and who presumably wants to see the brand and the team do well — after all, he was, it has been reported, the one who promised Jays players at a team event in the spring that money would be available at the trade deadline if the club was still in contention.

- There is still reason to hope, though. Laurence’s “strategy, dubbed Rogers 3.0, includes fixing customer service and accelerating growth. Laurence believes that the NHL broadcasting rights are a project the entire company can rally behind, and one that can be leveraged to help resuscitate the Rogers brand. The rights may not substantially raise ad revenues, but Laurence is hoping they’ll translate into increased revenue in cable and mobile.”

- In theory those same ideas should apply to the Jays, though the parallels are not perfect. They take in money in CDN for example, but by far their biggest expenditures (payroll) are in USD, making them especially vulnerable to fluctuations on the currency market. Plus, MLBAM already has domain over much of digital rights aspects of the game, limiting the way the company could exploit that revenue stream — though obviously a better product ought to lead to more demand to watch on cable and through whatever means Rogers can devise to get digital viewers through their proprietary services.

- The baseball club seems poised to remain the red headed step child of the Rogers family, at least where sports are concerned. It’s perhaps even a bit unsettling to read of just how big their hockey play is to the company — for example, just about all Rogers-owned publications, “even decidedly un-sporty ones,” are being required to produce hockey content — while baseball is entirely an afterthought, both in the piece, and presumably in the top floor hallways at Bloor and Jarvis. However, if “critics of the NHL deal [who] say it has quickly transformed Rogers from a communications company into a sports marketing company” are right, in addition to the company’s greater willingness to take risks, and the keenness on un-poisoning their brand, fans can at least feel a little hopeful for their teams that sports and the marketing is such a central focus of the behemoth, I think. Even those who are fans of the “wrong” sport. I hope.

bobstanleyt

We have our scapegoat!

Or, at least, we have what looks like it might be our scapegoat, even though there may well be perfectly good reasons for a change. That’s because, according to a report from Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, Bob Stanley is out as the Jays’ bullpen coach.

Stanley, you may recall, was promoted late in the process last winter, when in mid-January Pat Hentgen stepped aside from the position in order to deal with a family matter. Stanley – yes, the Bob Stanley (look him up, kids) — was slated to be the pitching coach at Buffalo, but got the call to be the Jays’ bullpen coach instead.

He certainly “oversaw” a bad year in what was supposed to be a good ‘pen — or at the very least he sat nearby as guys like Sergio Santos and Steve Delabar imploded, as Marcus Stroman struggled during his initial promotion, as Casey Janssen sagged down the stretch after an illness at the All-Star break, as Dustin McGowan underperformed (especially by FIP and xFIP), and as Esmil Rogers went on to be somewhat useful, and Jeremy Jeffress to be pretty terrific, once they both moved on to other organizations.

How much of that is really on Stanley? It’s impossible to say, but my best guess is not much. Still, the lack of success makes it somewhat justifiable, and probably even makes for good optics in the minds of some. Plus, he was never a guy who the club intended on being there anyway, and as Davidi explains, the leading candidates to replace him “all have relationships and experience with many of the young Blue Jays pitchers making their way up the system.” Hentgen isn’t among them, though he remains with the organization. According to Davidi, pitching coordinator Dane Johnson, roving instructor Rick Langford, and Bisons pitching coach Randy St. Claire are all in the running for the big league post.

Makes sense.

Davidi also tells us that Demarlo Hale interviewed with the Minnesota Twins as a potential candidate to be their next field manager, so he might need a replacement, but otherwise the Jays’ coaches will all be back next season.

So… there’s that.