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A right fucking thumping. That’ll play.

Not sure I care much for how Jose Reyes seems to be feeling a hard swing in his back or his ailing shoulder more than usual, or how he ended up coming out of the game — though he wasn’t the only one of the club’s stars to hit the showers early, he was definitely the first one (however, he stayed in the game after what appeared to be the initial tweak, and ended up swinging the bat again as well, so hopefully this is much ado about nothing). Other than that? Not a whole lot to complain about. Shit, I’m even at the point where if Ryan Goins wants to keep hitting, sure, let him keep hitting (uh… maybe not on 3-0 though). Feels like a thing a lot easier to sign off on when the club has already demonstrated they’ll have a short leash, as opposed to back in the spring, when the plan appeared to be to blow on some magic beans and hope a big league quality bat would sprout somewhere.

#SignMelkyNow

dannyvalencia

The Jays have made exactly the kind of trade that you’d have expected the Jays to make — at least a couple weeks ago you would have — flipping a pair of Buffalo Bisons, catcher Erik Kratz and starter Liam Hendriks, to the Kansas City Royals for Danny Valencia.

Valencia is a third baseman, though not a particularly great one according to the metrics, but passable enough to get his bat into the lineup, which will certainly help the Jays, given that he’s a right-handed bat who hits lefties quite well.

In a very small sample (68 plate appearances) he has slashed .354/.386/.492 against left-handed pitching this season. He obviously doesn’t walk a tonne against them, and he’s benefitting from a pretty high BABIP, but those are still some terrific numbers, as are the ones he’s put up if you increase the sample to previous years, when he played for the Twins, Red Sox, and Orioles. Over his last 228 plate appearances against left-handers, spanning 2012 to 2014, he’s maintained that high BABIP (.358), and those sparkling numbers, posting a 138 wRC+, and a .330/.346/.530 slash line, with eight homers and 17 doubles.

Increase the sample to include his entire big league career against lefties and it’s more of the same.

In other words, this is a very nice piece the Jays have just acquired themselves, given that it cost them almost nothing. Kratz was useful enough, but clearly expendable as the third catcher on the depth chart. And Hendriks may have started the Triple-A All-Star Game, with Sean Nolin returning to health, Todd Redmond still available in the bullpen, and Brandon Morrow possibly making an eventual comeback, he could justifiably be considered the eighth or ninth starter on the depth chart, with little hope of moving up the pecking order next year, given that Aaron Sanchez and Dan Norris are expected to be knocking on the door by then.

Speaking of next year, Valencia, who makes just $532.5K this year, he’ll still be under team control then. And the year after. And the year after that, as well. Yes, this winter will be his first crack at arbitration, meaning that the Jays hold his rights for three years after this one — though, according to an MLBTR piece from the spring, he is out of options, so who knows if he ever actually manages to stick around that long.

He didn’t have much of a future in Kansas City, with former top pick Christian Colon getting moved up to add some depth to the Royals’ infield, and Mike Moustakas getting a vote of confidence, according to Andy Martino of the Kansas City Star. As for what the future holds here, Valencia fits very well with the current roster and its many platoon situations — and Alex Anthopoulos, via a tweet from Mike Wilner, suggests that he’s a guy that they’ve looked at for a while now.

The Jays will hold off on announcing a corresponding move until Valencia reports, and one wonders what it might be. With Esmil Rogers being D’d FA over the weekend to make room for Reimold, the club is down to seven relievers, and you’re not going to see them go down to six. Anthony Gose has been seeing a lot of time lately, and has been doing well, but he has options and is somewhat redundant with four other outfielders now on the roster — though Colby Rasmus would be the only one left over who is capable of playing centre for an extended stretch. If a Gose demotion ends up being the move, on the 3B/2B/1B/DH front the club has a spot for all of their current pieces, with Kawasaki, Goins, Francisco, and Johnson going against right-handers, with Valencia, Tolleson, and Reimold going against lefties, with a giant, Edwin Encarnacion-sized hole in that particular configuration (though Johnson doesn’t have a particularly large platoon split). However, if Gose stays, Bautista can move to first against right-handers — as he’s been doing from time to time — until Edwin is back, with Kawasaki, Goins, and Francisco handling 3B/2B/DH, with Johnson being made the redundant part. Unless! You could also use Johnson at DH and Francisco at third, with one of Goins or Kawasaki being demoted.

Goins and Gose both have options, while none of the others do, so I could see it coming down to that. However, the Jays certainly seem to like the defence they both bring and have been playing them a lot lately to good effect. I could see them erring on the side of keeping whatever depth they can. Would be nice to be able to keep a Kawasaki around for the balance of the season, and Dan Johnson, too, one supposes, but with Edwin, Lind, and Lawrie on the mend, some tough decisions are going to have to be made sooner or later — and for someone maybe tomorrow, when Valencia likely arrives, will be “sooner.”

We shall see. What we already know, though, is that this team is better now than it was yesterday, and that it cost them pretty close to nothing.

I can live with that. I can so fucking live with that.

dickeyfenway

The Jays face the Red Sox, and R.A. Dickey squares off with Clay Buchholz, for the second time in less than a week, but in a wholly different atmosphere. No, not just because this one goes at Fenway, but because the Red Sox are increasingly being rumoured to be in sell mode — most notably when it comes to free-agent-to-be Jon Lester, who the Sox are being “hit hard on” (along with John Lackey), according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, who also indicated that other teams in the AL East are involved.

Meanwhile, we have a trade!

Around 6:30 PM ET, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News noted that Erik Kratz had been pulled from the Bisons’ lineup, with no reason given. Twenty minutes later, Shi Davidi tweeted that Liam Hendriks had been dealt to the Royals, then not long afterwards, Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan told us that both Kratz and Hendriks are bound for Kansas City, with no word yet on what the return will be (though the early money seems to be on a bullpen piece of some order).

Ben Nicholson-Smith adds that Kratz is expected to contribute in the big leagues for the Royals, so they like him to at least some extent. So… we’ll see.

I’ll update this post as soon as we learn anything new.

Oh yeah, and baseball!

Update:

It’s 3B Danny Valencia who will come the Jays’ way in this deal. Full post upcoming!

Scuttlebutt

MORE SCUTTLEBUTT FORTHCOMING! (Maybe).

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 7:10 PM ET @ Boston

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

SS Jose Reyes (S)
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
DH Jose Bautista (R)
1B Juan Francisco (L)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
3B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
C Josh Thole (L)
2B Ryan Goins (L)
RF Anthony Gose (L)

RHP R.A. Dickey

Boston Red Sox

CF Brock Holt (L)
2B Dustin Pedroia (R)
DH David Ortiz (L)
1B Mike Napoli (R)
LF Daniel Nava (S)
RF Shane Victorino (R)
SS Stephen Drew (L)
3B Xander Bogaerts (R)
C David Ross (R)

RHP Clay Buchholz

janssennavarroNYY

Scheduled Conflicts

The Jays truly are the masters of their own fate right now, as the schedule-makers have made things very intriguing down the stretch for the club — not that they had too much choice, given the huge number of intra-divisional games each team needs to play. Here, in order of most total games remaining against (with the home/road breakdown in brackets), is what the Jays schedule looks like until the end of the season:

Baltimore (6H/3A), Boston (3H/6A), New York (3H/4A), Seattle (4H/3A), Tampa Bay (3H/3A), Houston (0H/4A), Detroit (3H/0A), Chicago (AL) (0H/3A), Chicago (NL) (3H/0A), Milwaukee (0H/2A).

So a tonne of games against the Yankees, Orioles, and Mariners — the three teams they’re in the biggest fight with — thirteen of which are at home, with ten on the road. Add in four against the Astros, three against the White Sox, and three against the Cubs — not to mention none against the A’s, or Angels — and you start to not feel so bad about the road ahead. That is, as long as they Jays can take care of business against the AL East.

How about their competition? The Yankees’ have their most remaining games against Baltimore (4H/6A), followed by Boston and Tampa (3H/6A each), then the Jays and Tigers (4H/3A each). They have three game sets with Texas (away), as well as Houston, Cleveland, and the White Sox (all home), with four games against the Royals (3H/1A) thanks to a make-up date from a June washout.

As we’ve established, Baltimore has ten against the Yankees (6H/4A) and nine against us (3H/6A). Beyond that it’s seven against Tampa (4H/3A), six with Boston (split evenly), one make-up game at Nationals Park, then a bunch of three-game sets: Anaheim, Cincinnati, Seattle, St. Louis, and Minnesota at home, Cleveland and both Chicago teams on the road.

They control their own fate too, I suppose.

A Win In The Bronx

Not just a single victory, but a series victory! It feels fucking great for fans, and undoubtedly in the room, too. I mean, as much as it ought to be easy to slough those sorts of utterly irrelevant anomalies of futility — for fuck sakes, the Jays’ first three losses in the streak at Yankee Stadium came at the end of 2012, when John Farrell-led club’s most-used starters were Romero, Morrow, Villanueva, Alvarez, Laffey, and Happ, so it’s not like what they were doing means anything about what you’d think the current rotation might do — it surely isn’t, and it surely doesn’t stop the “here we go again” feelings that we’re all too familiar with (there are, after all, still ghosts in Tampa that the Jays would do well to extinguish before this season is through).

Arden Zwelling has an excellent piece up at Sportsnet on yesterday’s roller coaster ride, looking at it — and its win expectancy graph from FanGraphs — as a microcosm for an up-and-down season that once again feels like its moving in the right direction.

Just like Sunday’s game, a baseball season is a back and forth thing, with its intoxicating ups and depressing downs. Take the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that was widely written off in late June when it was staggering on its feet with a 33-49 record. They went on a run (the Rays have lost just five times in July) and are now quietly lurking in the AL East weeds, just 4.5 games out of the playoffs.

So, yes, what the Blue Jays have done since the all-star break — winning seven of ten — is very, very good. And what they did leading up to it — losing eight of ten — was very, very bad. But as tempting as it may be to forecast and predict, neither of those two runs are going to make or break the season.

It’s baseball. You try to win more than you lose because that’s really all you can do (And seven games against the lowly Red Sox and Astros to close the current road trip sure seems like a good opportunity to do that).

But as the Blue Jays celebrated under the sun at Yankee Stadium, it really felt like Sunday’s triumph was meaningful. It felt significant. Even though it was just another mid-summer ballgame.

That’s the rub.

Prospecting

Aaron Sanchez got his first big league win, but also gave up his first run and looked at least somewhat human-ish in his second inning of work. The velocity was still there, and according to his Brooks Baseball page he ditched whatever that 93 mph offering he was using in his first start, though they’ve identified a sinker at 98 in addition to a four-seamer at that speed that he was throwing, along with a curveball he only managed to get one batter to offer at in six tries (though he did also get two strikes from it).

As far as bumps in the road go, it wasn’t the biggest.

Despite the impressive appearances in the big leagues, Sanchez has generally seen his stock continue to sink on the various prospect lists — including the one that was updated over the weekend at MLB.com. He checks in at number 40 on Jim Callis’s latest list, behind Dan Norris (29) in a group of Jays that also includes Dalton Pompey (95) and the just-drafted (and just-surgery’d) Jeff Hoffman (97).

The somewhat low rankings doesn’t mean that Callis doesn’t like what the Jays are doing, though, as he wrote a piece ranking teams based on the talent they acquired in June’s Rule Four draft, and thanks to the Astros’ fuckup with Brady Aiken, it’s the Jays who end up at number one.

Now, the ranking is a little bit warped because it includes the make-up pick the Jays got for not signing Phil Bickford last year, so naturally they’re going to get more of an infusion of talent than most, just like last year they got less. Still, though!

Beyond the big two — Hoffman and number 11 pick Max Pentecost — Callis likes that the Jays “also grabbed a pair of projectable high school pitchers in righty Sean Reid-Foley from Florida ($1,128,800) and lefty Nick Wells from Virginia ($661,800) in the second and third rounds, and they moved enough money around to land athletic Tennessee prep outfielder Lane Thomas for $750,000 in the fifth.”

He didn’t like Wells or Thomas that much, though, as neither shows up on Callis’s updated Jays top 20 list. Reid-Foley does, however, ranking tenth for Callis, behind D.J. Davis and ahead of Sean Nolin, Dawel Lugo, Matt Dean, and others. Hoffman jumps immediately to number four, just ahead of Roberto Osuna and Pentecost, who are themselves just ahead of Mitch Nay and Franklin Barreto.

“Hoffman hasn’t fully grown into his lanky 6-foot-4 frame, yet at times he works in the mid 90s and hits 98 mph with his fastball,” we’re told. “His big-breaking curveball can be equally devastating and his changeup can be a plus pitch at times. He throws a decent amount of strikes but will need to refine his command to become a frontline starter in the big leagues.”

That’ll play. That’ll make it hurt a whole lot fucking less if the Mets manage to get Tulo for a package centred on Noah Syndergaard, too (not that that necessarily has legs, but still… yeesh!).

Today In MLBTR: Monday, July 28th

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The non-waiver trade deadline hits Thursday, and there is all kinds of chatter, big and small, out there regarding the Blue Jays and everyone else, so let’s check out what’s going on over at the invaluable, fantastic, and comprehensive MLB Trade Rumors and see what we’re hearing as the hot stove gets close to its boiling point… 

A large, awesome Jays-specific piece will require several paragraphs here to cover:

- Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun writes that the Jays could have had Chase Headley, with San Diego paying the freight, if they’d traded Juan Francisco and two “not big-time prospects.” It may seem bizarre to some that the Jays wouldn’t do this, especially those whose minds are broken by strikeouts, as though they’re some sin infinitely worse than any old other out (they’re not, though yes, they’re worse), but I can see it. First, it depends on who the prospects are. Second, as MLBTR points out, even with the recent struggles, Francisco is having a much better season than Headley so far. Third, Francisco doesn’t come with injury concerns that would only be exacerbated by playing on the Rogers Centre turf. Fourth, if the performance from Headley wasn’t there, you’d maybe wonder just how easily he’d take being held out of the lineup, especially as a free-agent-to-be trying to rebuild some value as he heads towards a payday. Francisco, I don’t think, would pose an issue in this regard — though to be fair, I certainly can’t say the same about Headley with any knowledge either, I’d just maybe have wondered.

- A piece from Shi Davidi at Sportsnet tells us that the Jays are being scouted beyond just “the usual suspects,” as he notes that the Phillies took a short trip down the road to Dunedin to look at a rehab start from Sean Nolin, while the Rangers have had scouts in Vancouver, looking in particular at Franklin Barreto, Miguel Castro, and Jairo Labourt. It could just be due diligence, or these clubs having a look at these guys just so they know better what they may want to ask for in the future. But I don’t know… though we heard last week from Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that the Jays (as well as the Yankees) are cool to the idea of A.J. Burnett, that could be a thing — though he’s certainly not the only intriguing body on their roster. And the Rangers have some pieces that could move too, including Alex Rios, who the Jays are rumoured to be interested in – though Ken Rosenthal tweeted yesterday that their interest was fleeting.

- Kenny Ken Ken also tweets that free-agent-to-be Asdrubal Cabrera is “an option” for the Jays, which… is he? He’s been worth nearly a win-and-a-half this year, but thanks mostly to the fact that he plays shortstop, which he’d be moved off of if he came over to the Jays, moving back to second base, where he played a bunch from 2007 to 2009. He doesn’t play great defence (according to the metrics) at short, and has a .303 on-base over his last 970 plate appearances. And his platoon splits aren’t terribly pronounced, either. Against right-handed pitching, where he’s hit best, over that span the switch hitter slashed .249/.315/.407. At this point I’d take Munenori Kawasaki and his .295/.351/.352 line against right-handers, thanks. And I’d certainly take Steve Tolleson and his 174 wRC+ against lefties. Second base hasn’t even really been that big a problem for this team, frankly.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The dumb streak is over. Thank fuck. Now we never have to hear about it again.

yankeestadiumgraveyard

It’s just a stadium. Relax.

Scuttlebutt

Gregor Chisholm tweets that Nolan Reimold appears to be the closest of the Jays’ injured players to actually returning to action, with Monday in Boston sounding like a possibility.

Gregor adds that there’s no real update on Lind and Encarnacion, though they will be back before the trade deadline next Thursday (or so John Gibbons says), and also tells us that Brett Lawrie will join those two in Florida in the next couple of days, with Brandon Morrow heading that way to continue working towards full health on Monday.

Richard Griffin tweets that John Gibbons decided not to have his club take on-field batting practice today, because the Yankee Stadium scoreboard was celebrating the club’s 1938 championship… or something. OK?

Alex Seixeiro tweets that the Jays are going to face a left-handed starter sooner than they’d planned: Chris Capuano has just been picked up by the Yankees and will go on Saturday.

At Sportsnet, Mike Wilner and Shi Davidi talk to Jays senior advisor Mel Didier, which sounds fascinating, but also slightly terrifying. If he’s got great insights he’s got grade insights, no matter what age he is, but it’s not exactly the most progressive thing to have a strong octogenarian voice in the front office — and I’ve heard that the Jays really do value his input, like on Phil Bickford. Prior to being with the Jays he was an advisor to Jon Daniels and the Rangers, so maybe I shouldn’t go too nuts with the ageism.

Marcus Stroman tweets that Mark Buehrle got all the young guys on the team fitted for suits while in NYC. Nice.

Shi Davidi tweets that Dalton Pompey has changed agents, and is now represented by CAA.

Oh, and as for the silliness about the Jays’ struggles in the Bronx being something more than a coincidence, uh… yeah, no:

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 1:07 PM ET @ New York; Sunday, 1:07 PM ET @ New York

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

SS Jose Reyes (S)
3B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
C Dioner Navarro (R)
1B Juan Francisco (L)
DH Colby Rasmus (L)
2B Ryan Goins (L)
CF Anthony Gose (L)

LHP Mark Buehrle

New York Yankees

LF Brett Gardner (L)
SS Derek Jeter (R)
CF Jacoby Ellsbury (L)
DH Carlos Beltran (S)
1B Brian McCann (L)
3B Chase Headley (L)
RF Ichiro! (L)
2B Brian Roberts (S)
C Francisco Cervelli (R)

RHP Hiroki Kuroda