klawdredd

So here’s something that we haven’t done for a while: taking a look at all the Jays-related tidbits from a Keith Law chat with readers over at ESPN.com!

It has, in fact, been so long that it’s not just “a Keith Law chat” that we’ll be looking at, but three of them, dating back to August 21st, with the most recent one being back on Friday, September 5th. Nails much? OK, so let’s do it!

08/21

Joe (Toronto)
Thoughts on Daniel Norris’ promotion to Triple A?
Klaw
They’re rushing prospects to AAA for reasons I don’t fully understand (or that I do understand and with which I disagree). Letting a guy go around a league twice has real value. Neither Norris nor Pompey got that in New Hampshire.

Oh, I think we fully understand what they’re doing here. It’s partly the ol’ sell hope for the future ploy, and in Norris’s case it’s partly that he can actually help a struggling bullpen, while in Pompey’s it’s that he can offer speed off the bench down the stretch, that he was going to have to be placed on the 40-man regardless, and that he almost certainly will spend more than a month next year in the minors, mitigating any issues with service time. Which isn’t at all to say that those aren’t things somebody can disagree with — one absolutely can.

Mike (Philly)
What’s a reasonable return for Hamels? Don’t want this to be construed as me thinking this will happen, but would Hamels for Norris, Pompey, and say, Sean Nolin be a “fair” trade? Again, I’m not saying the Jays would ever do it – just if that would be about the right quality/quantity for a return.
Klaw
If the Phils are paying some of Hamels’ freight, then yes, that’s in the ballpark – or at least more so than the offer Ruben made to LAD.

If the Jays didn’t have a budget — or if they had one that they knew couldn’t be reined in at a moment’s notice on ownership’s cynical whim — I’d make that deal in a heartbeat. Hamels is signed for four years after this one (through his age 34 season) plus an option. It’s expensive as hell — $22.5-million per season — and may not be a great deal on the back end, but he’s a terrific pitcher, and as easy as it is to get enamored with prospects, I think you’re going to get more value out of Hamels over the final two years of the current contracts for Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion that you will Norris.

For a team that has to think as much about their budget as they do, though? And who may well be better off hedging their bets with respect to the present/future? I think holding a young, cheap piece like Norris for another six or seven years has a lot more value to them right now — and keeping the lottery ticket that is Pompey, and the potentially important depth piece that is Nolin, is just gravy.

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stro-reyes

Marcus Stroman was outstanding on Monday night, giving rise, perhaps, to more hope than ever that the Jays of the next few years can compete with a rotation not dissimilar to the one that Oakland took to last season’s playoffs.

The A’s had 39-year-old Bartolo Colon as its veteran stalwart, and didn’t give a single start to anyone else over the age of 26, with the rest going to A.J. Griffin (25), Jarrod Parker (24), Tommy Millone (26), Dan Straily (24), Brett Anderson (25), and Sonny Gray (23) — with the youngster, Gray, taking the ball twice in the playoffs, while Colon, Straily and Parker making the other starts.

Sure, those guys were then a touch older than the likes of Aaron Sanchez and Dan Norris, who will both be 21 next season. But still! You can’t say it’s not doable.

Last night’s game was about much more that notion, of course, as you can see in the two GIFs below — the bookends of the night: Stroman’s season nearly ending very badly, as he narrowly avoided being hit in the face by a line drive, and Ryan Goins ending the game in spectacular fashion by reaching back to barehand a ball that took a bad bounce off the turf, preserving Stroman’s Maddux — a complete game, three hit shutout, with eight strikeouts and no walks, which took him just 93 pitches.

These both come from tweets embedded by Ian at the Blue Jay Hunter, but they’re not the only outstanding GIFs he has. There are four more in his post — including the outstanding seventh inning stretch episode featuring Colby Rasmus — so click the link and check out the rest over there.

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chart (5)#StromanTheBest

schedule

The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays schedule has arrived! Or… at least… in digital form, it has. Go flip through it yourself at BlueJays.com and see what the schedule-makers have in store for us next season, starting with a season-opening trip to the Bronx — complete with bullshit extra day off between Opening Day and game two, just so they’re sure they get a proper opener in regardless of the weather!

I mean, can we not just put the day off at the end of the series?

More highlights:

- The Jays start with a road trip to New York and Baltimore, and exclusively face AL East foes until the last day of April, save for a visit from their first National League team of the season: the Atlanta Braves.

- More interleague: visiting the Rogers Centre this year in addition to the Braves (April 17-19), will be the Marlins (June 8-10), Mets (June 17-18 as the road half of a four game home-and-home), the Phillies (July 28-29),

- And for those planning exotic road trips, the NL cities the Jays will be in are as follows: Washington D.C. (June 1-3), New York (June 15-16), Philadelphia (August 18-19), and Atlanta (September 15-17).

- Rejoice, Vancouver! The Jays actually get a weekend series in Seattle, visiting the Pacific Northwest from July 24th to the 26th. For those of you in the fly-over provinces, there’s a weekender in Minnesota May 29-31, as well!

- Holiday watch: The schedule makers noticed May 2-4 (aka Victoria Day), as the Jays will host a holiday Monday afternoon contest against the Angels — the better part of that weekend will see them in Houston, though. Canada Day, July 1st, is on a Wednesday, and the Jays do indeed have a home contest then, as well: they’ll face the Red Sox in a 1:07 PM ET start. The holiday Monday in August — Simcoe Day! — will also see an afternoon home game, with the Minnesota Twins in town. However, Labour Day, September 7th, will see them leaving town after a homestand and visiting the Red Sox.

- Former rivals: How does a weekend in Detroit sound? That’s where the Jays will be from July 3-5. They also get a weekend set with a former rival in Cleveland, May 1-3. The Tigers make their lone visit to the Rogers Centre August 28-30, while Cleveland visits immediately after, from August 31st to September 2nd.

- Late start? No. At this time there are no 4 PM Saturday or Sunday contests scheduled to be held at Rogers Centre. Booooooo!!!!!

- Late finish? Yes. The 2015 season will start late and end late — the Jays’ final seven games will be on the road, as they’ll close the regular season with four at Baltimore, then three in Tampa, with the final game of the season being Sunday, October 4th. OCTOBER BASEBALL!

All in all… it’s a schedule. So what do you think??!?

griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag! Aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star! And this time around, we’ve got one that took me less time to write than any Griff Bag I can remember. Probably means some real probing, thought-provoking, quality questions in here, right? Right???

If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, unless it’s about fucking Ricky Romero and J.P. Arencibia, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q-Richard Stoeten,

With the A’s (Jon Lester) and the Tigers (David Price) pulling off two of the biggest trades at the deadlines, they are also two teams that are underachieving in a big ways since the trade deadline. There’s some talk that the dynamics of these big trades have been changing in terms of the number of teams that are actively engaging/pursuing these kinds of big-names/blockbuster trades.

There is a possibility that GMs will be even more reluctant to pull these kinds of trades in the future. What are you thoughts?

And a quick one – Given what Alvarez has done this year with the Marlins (before he went on DL), would you take him over Buehrle on your staff? Nobody on the Jays staff is even close to a sub-3 ERA with 160 IP…

John, Southern Cali

1) I think teams will continue to make trades that make sense for them on the field, and that the talk about upsetting dynamics is mostly just silliness. Not everything that happens needs to be explained by some ethereal force. The A’s stopped hitting and got poor play from their backups, and in Detroit, J.D. Martinez went in the tank, and injury to pieces in the bullpen made them hilariously woeful back there again. Their poor runs, in terms of wins and losses since the deadline, have had almost nothing to do with the players they added or the ones they gave up.

2) This year, and on talent alone? No. Factoring in the contract and you’d easily to take Alvarez, but his 2.88 ERA in the NL East, where he gets to face a pitcher or a pinch hitter every nine batters, isn’t much better than Buehrle’s 3.34 in the AL East, and their FIPs are about the same. Alvarez has an edge in xFIP, but by fWAR, Buehrle has been more than a full win better than Alvarez — Dickey has been better, too, for what it’s worth.

Baseball Reference’s version of WAR suggests they’ve provided about the same amount of value (with Dickey lagging behind in that case), so… there maybe is no one easy answer. It is definitely not quite so simple as looking at ERA, though. But again, all things considered, Alvarez certainly is the better piece to have.

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chart (4)

UGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH…

I don’t think there is a lot of value in producing a tonne of Assorted Weekennd Thoughts this morning, as I already covered so much as it happened. But definitely check out Friday night’s pieces on the debut of Daniel Norris, the injury to Melky Cabrera, and Saturday’s game threat, in which looked back at John Gibbons’ over-managing on Saturday, and the meaning of Melky’s comments about wanting to stay here in Toronto.

But before we depart, let’s have a quick thought and a look at the road ahead.

One quick thought…

An ERA of 3.51, a 4.24 FIP, and a 3.98 xFIP. Over six-and-one-third innings per start. 139 Ks and 51 walks in 166.2 innings.

No, those aren’t exactly ace-type numbers, but they’re not awful, either. Certainly not in the AL East, and certainly not for a guy who routinely outpitches his FIP.

Those numbers, of course, represent the last 25 starts the Jays have gotten from R.A. Dickey. Again: not what we ever expected, and ultimately disappointing, but you sure can do whole lot worse for $12-million per year, too.

I dunno…

The Road Ahead

The Jays lost two of three to the Boston Red Sox over the weekend, both of which were close, and one of which was positively gut-wrenching, blowing, as they did, a three run lead in the eighth and a two run lead in the tenth. Remarkably, though, the Jays only lost a half game in the race for the Wild Card.

Of course, losing any ground while also having three fewer games left on the schedule is hardly a good thing. It’s a major, major problem for the Jays’ dimly flickering hopes — especially dim as they now are, with Melky Cabrera out for the season. But they’re not licked yet! And they’ve especially got a fighting change with the lowly Cubs — loaded, as they are, with impressive young talent — coming to the Rogers Centre for three, and because the teams ahead of may well beat up on each other.

As we did prior to the weekend’s series, let’s take a look at who we ought to be cheering for this week.,

Cubs @ Jays (Obviously!)
Astros @ Mariners (Not good having to rely on the Astros, eh? At least the Jays have 4 left against Seattle.)
Royals @ Tigers (Could go either way on this, but would love to see KC drive the Tigers out of the race.)
Angels @ Cleveland (A single make-up game. Go Halos!)
Twins @ Cleveland (What’s worse: the unbalanced schedule or Cleveland’s racist logo?)
Orioles @ Red Sox (The Jays are 10 back, but have six games left with Baltimore. Also: fuck ‘em,)
A’s @ White Sox (A’s trying to put the other WC back in play? Do it! Will cheer for them this weekend, though.)

The weekend’s schedule doesn’t look terribly awful for the Jays, either! To wit: Rays @ Jays, A’s @ Mariners, Red Sox @ Tigers, Yankees @ Orioles (x4), Cleveland @ Tigers.

Go Jays!

gibbersgun

John Gibbons was certainly guilty of over-managing on Friday night. Taking out Ryan Goins for a pinch runner was an especially odd choice that left the team stuck with Steve Tolleson at second base. Kendall Graveman and Daniel Norris were each thrown into the fire for one batter, despite sitting on the bench with a much more sizeable in Tampa two nights prior, watching Aaron Sanchez pitch enough to make himself unavailable until tonight — and the baserunner Graveman allowed, before he was given a quick hook and Aaron Loup was oddly brought in to face a bunch of right-handers was rather crucial. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that, despite whatever the fuck that all was, the Jays had a three run cushion heading into the bottom of the eighth and a two run lead going into the bottom of the tenth and blew them both. He maybe didn’t help as much as he could have, but last night too many people seemed to want to believe that those six runs are on the manager, which is absolute insanity. Even the decision to go to Casey Janssen — a once ultra-dependable closer who Gibbons has lost faith in enough to have removed him from the role (except when Aaron Sanchez is unavailable, as he was Friday night) — was eminently defensible, despite the groans from the peanut gallery. And it’s not exactly like he’s getting hit all over the yard, either — he seems to have lost just enough since his illness over the All-Star break to have moved him, hopefully temporarily, from being a guy always just barely on the right side of the margins to one falling the wrong way over the edge just often enough for it to matter. Tough to nitpick the decision in my estimation — tougher still to blame the manager when big leaguers, demonstrably worse choices to be in the game than others or not, simply have to get six outs while keeping six runs off the board and can’t fucking do it.

But yes, that fucking sucked. And so did Melky Cabrera’s season-ending injury. But… silver lining?

“I stay in Toronto,” Melky says, speaking about next year, according to a number of reports, including this one from John Lott of the National Post.

A reporter asked: You want to stay?

“Yeah,” he replied with a small smile.

So that’s awesome. However, in a series of tweets, Gregor Chisholm suggests that we maybe shouldn’t be over the moon just yet:

I have no doubt that Cabrera enjoys playing in Toronto. But let’s not get carried away with his comments about wanting to stay.

Qualifying offer will loom large. It’ll impact not only what other teams offer but could impact #BlueJays offer as they leverage situation.

In other words, a lot of things have to play out before there’s any kind of certainty about Cabrera’s future in Toronto or with another team.

Sadly, this is almost certainly true. But holy shit, let’s just figure it out.

Bob Elliott said on Prime Time Sports this week that he thought Cabrera might be in for a Choo-like seven-year deal, but that, of course, is insane. It’ll be shorter than that — a Toronto Star piece earlier in the summer, in which Brendan Kennedy consulted caripus executives and agents on their thoughts, suggested Curtis Granderson’s 4/60 deal with the Mets as a ceiling. That’ll play. Backload it the right way to fit the Jays’ payroll structure and that will definitely play.

Just fucking do it!

Now consider this your Game/Rain Threat. Might be a long one tonight, so buckle up! Or, given the forecast at the time of this writing, there might not be a game at all. Fingers crossed — and for a win, too. Despite yesterday’s disappointment, the Jays ended the night hardly worse off in the playoff race than when they started. Let’s get back to winning, eh?