buehrleRCmound

The Cubs sure have brought a whole lot of hitting talent with them across the border, but holy lord, they’re bad.

Yes, yes, those sound precisely like the words of a fan whose team is about to be stymied by the far-from-bad former Oriole, Jake Arrieta, but with Anthony Rizzo still out of their lineup (Starlin Castro, too), and a bunch of big prospects — Kris Bryant, Addison Russell — still not yet big leaguers, their lineup… is… well… tonight’s cleanup hitter, Luis Valbuena, was very briefly a Blue Jay in the off-season between 2011 and 2012, before being lost on waviers at the end of Spring Training.

He’s not without value, either — though not nearly as famous as some of the other recent ones that got away. This year FanGraphs’ version of WAR has calculated Valbuena to have produced 2.5 wins, while Baseball Reference has him at 1.1. Certainly nothing to turn our noses up at — especially for a guy on a cheap deal, with an above-average walk rate, and showing surprising power here in his age-28 season (.197 ISO).

Still, though, he’s at 247/.328/.444, which doesn’t exactly scream “cleanup hitter,” especially against Mark Buehrle, when his wRC+ against lefties is just 86 on the year.

I’m just sayin’ is all… the Cubs will be scary one day very soon. Maybe not today, though.

Scuttlebutt

The Jays’ original lineup had Edwin Encarnacion at first base, and Adam Lind at DH. Shi Davidi appears to have been the first to tweet about the change.

MLBTR’s Zach Links tweeted earlier in the afternoon that the Jays are will soon put Matt Hague on waivers. To open a spot on the 40-man for what, one wonders?

Megan Robinson tweets that, with a home run tonight, Jose Bautista would become the first player since Willie Mays in 1965 to hit a home run in seven straight home games.

Lastly… lately Facebook changed its algorithm with respect to sharing, it’s really become a much more powerful social media tool, and so it’s probably in your best interest to just go right ahead and like DJF on Facebook. That way you can get everything that’s posted here injected straight into your feed-veins.

And while we’re at it, you might as well follow me on Twitter, follow @DrunkJaysFans, and follow the dusty ol’ DJF Instagram too!

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dailyduce3-595

Think of how many rags he had to pick!

It’s been a while since I did one of these, so there is a tonne of great stuff to get to, but how can I not start with last night’s gem? As usual, John Lott’s game story in the National Post provides us an excellent recap.

As I noted in this morning’s GIF post, Marcus Stroman’s performance truly made one feel good about the future. But as we all know, the Jays’ future doesn’t hinge solely on him. Last week Ben Lindbergh of Grantland looked in-depth at five September call-ups that fans need to know about, and two of them were Blue Jays: Dan Norris and Dalton Pompey. He was, as you’d expect, a little less high on Pompey than Norris, suggesting that his rapid ascent this season might oversell his potential, and killing some of his maple dick buzz by reminding us that “he handed in his Canadian card when he admitted he’d never attended a hockey game before March of this year.” Still, though, great stuff.

Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet gave an excellent rundown of all the Jays’ call-ups last week, as well.

Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs looked at four of the same five call-ups as Lindbergh did, offering a scout’s take on both of the Jays’ prospects. On Norris he generally offers praise, explaining that “he still isn’t perfectly online, he can elevate at times when he locks his landing knee and these things lead to a flatter fastball and giving up more hard contact. That said, he’s athletic enough to make all of this work and, when it’s right, the stuff is electric. There’s 2/3 starter upside and Norris now has the command to get there much faster than many would’ve guessed before this season.” Pompey’s promtion, he thinks, is less of a good thing: “He has under 200 plate appearances above A-Ball, has a bigger stride/swing than most lead-off types and his dead hand load gives him some timing issues against advanced pitching. Pompey has hit his way to the big leagues, he offers speed and defense immediately and that could help prop up his batting average in the short-term, but this is a little premature.”

Elsewhere at FanGraphs, Carson Cistulli’s look at the week’s best fringe prospects includes Dwight Smith Jr., who got less hype than Pompey — and didn’t rise through the system the same way — but who exhibited a similar skill set to his former Dunedin outfield mate.

At FanGraphs’ sister site, RotoGraphs, Marc Hulet takes a fantasy focus and tells us about the top impact prospects in MLB among left-handed starters, and guess who heads the list? Yep. It’s Daniel Norris. (His piece on the top right-handed starting prospects has Aaron Sanchez coming in fourth — behind Taijuan Walker, Archie Bradley, and Lucas Giolito, but ahead of Noah Syndergaard and Dylan Bundy. Hmmm.)

Oh, and there’s still more: Jeff Moore and Ben Carsley of Baseball Prospectus offer some pretty nice praise for Pompey, from a fantasy perspective, explaining that, “depending on the Jays’ offseason moves and prospect graduations, Pompey could be a top-25 name when we start compiling prospect lists this offseason, and if for some reason he’s not owned in your dynasty league, you should rectify that immediately.” They also nail it with this one: “Anthony Gose could lose the most playing time to a Pompey since Pliny the Elder.” Wah wahhh!

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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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