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A few small items of note have come down the ol’ information superhighway this afternoon, and while none of them really deserves its own post, they all certainly are worthy of some attention…

Sergio Santos Clears Waivers

Cue the conspiracy theory twits clamming up: according to a tweet from Ben Nicholson-Smith, Sergio Santo has cleared waivers and will go to Triple-A Buffalo in order to work on getting his command back. So if the Jays’ super-secret — *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* — plan with this move was to save money, I guess they fucked up. Shocking, really, that no team was willing to piss away nearly $4-million (which is what Santos is owed for the remainder of this season plus the $750K buyouts of his three remaining option years) to see if an oft-injured non-closer with 17 walks in 19.2 innings could stave off the injury bug for his longest stretch since 2011 while regaining the form that made him a force at the back of the White Sox bullpen back then.

The Jays, of course, are already on the hook for that money anyway, so obviously they’ll try to get him right and hope that he can be a weapon for them later in the season — just as they’re currently doing with Steve Delabar. It could make for a pretty deadly bullpen if it all works out and everybody stays healthy, especially once rosters expand in September, with options like Janssen, McGowan, Sanchez, Cecil, Loup, Redmond, Delabar, Santos, Wagner, and maybe even Morrow.

One might suppose that they wouldn’t have been crying if somebody took that contract off their hands, but the money is already so spread out that I don’t think it matters too much in the grand scheme. If it meant clearing that almost-$4-million for next year, that would be a different story, but in practical terms they’d be clearing about $1.4-million this year, then only $750K from the budget for each of the next three years. Not helping them that much unless they really want to add another guy at about his salary and really are already stretched to the max — neither of which is impossible, but I just don’t see it when the obvious answer is that they think he can help this year if he gets himself straight, which wasn’t going to happen pitching as sparingly in the majors as his current performance warranted.

Gibbons: The Jays Were “In On” Headley

It’s real fuckin’ easy to say after the fact, but according to a tweet from MLB Network Radio, in an appearance on Power Alley with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette, John Gibbons said that the club was “in on” Chase Headley. You can listen to Gibbers’ comments on that, as well as on Aaron Sanchez’s workload, and the fact that Ryan Goins is going to be playing a lot (because he really helps the club’s defence — though also, for some reason, they seem optimistic that he’s found a better level at which to hold his hands while at the plate, which according to a piece from Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun, is a little higher than where Kevin Seitzer had lowered them to earlier in the season).

The Headley thing… I honestly don’t know how inside the trade talk stuff John Gibbons would be. I think a lot of people might immediately start thinking that this means that the team was in it down to the wire, our in-over-his-head GM beaten out for Headley’s service by the smooth-talkin’ total pro Yankees, or some such utter fucking horseshit. The way I imagine it is more that Gibbons was aware that they were looking at Headley, was asked how he might be a fit, what plans there might have been to use him, whose playing time would have to be sacrificed, etc. I’m entirely just making that up, but I dunno… I’m sure not going to jump to any bigger conclusions based on Gibbers’ supposed knowledge of high level trade talks. He’s got his own job to do, y’know?

Renewed Focus On Pitching Trades?

An insufferable criticism that is too often levelled at the Jays without the hint of any basis in truth — at least as far as anything on the public record is concerned — is the one that goes that the front office operates without a plan. It’s one of those things that people without anything better to piss and moan about, who are unwilling to take a moment’s thought about  the reality of how the front office works, use just because they have some pathological need to spray piss all about as a means to defend against having to contemplate any other of their own feelings.

But… uh… sometimes you maybe see a little kernel of truth in it.

I mean, I know they didn’t actually do anything yet to address the lineup, and that not remotely every rumour you hear is actually true, but… um… really? Back to pitching? We didn’t entirely see these hitters coming back to full health on the horizon? All of the sudden it’s, “Hey, Hutchison’s been bad, maybe we should get a pitcher”?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that these guys are getting closer to returning — and seem to be doing so on or ahead of schedule — but… really?

Layin’ Down The Law

Lastly, Keith Law had a chat with readers today at ESPN.com, and while there weren’t many Jays-related tidbits, one sure stands out. *COUGH*

Keith (kc) [via mobile]
A few years back you were on record as saying Sanchez> Thor. What changed during development to make them flip flop?
Klaw
The Jays shortened Sanchez’ stride, claiming it would help him get over his front side more – when the opposite is true – and it has ruined him in several ways. He’s less athletic, his command has gone backwards, he doesn’t finish the breaking ball as consistently, and of course guys with upright finishes and short strides are at greater risk of injury. Meanwhile, Thor just keeps getting better, going from a below-average curveball to a solid-average one in about a year and a half – and the Mets didn’t touch what was already a good delivery.

Ouch.

This is better, at least:

Sagar (NYC)
Jim Bowden suggested that the Mets could get Franklin Barreto for Bartolo Colon. Any thoughts on Barreto? Wouldn’t that be a steal for the Mets?
Klaw
Zero chance of that happening. Like, zero to the power of ten.

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Pride is a fool’s fortress. Now who’s for Denny’s?

Some rumour mongering (read: throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks) this week out of Philadelphia (mostly via the great MLBTR): Earlier in the week, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported that the Jays might be considering a play for the Phillies’ Kyle Kendrick after a scout from the club watched him recently, even though that totally makes no sense. In a later piece, Salisbury also notes that the Jays (as well as the Yankees) scouted Cliff Lee’s first rehab start, which… yeah, I tend to be on the optimistic side, but I’ll believe Rogers is going to sign off on paying one player $52.5-million for 2015 and ’16 (or $37.5-million for just 2015, including a hefty 2016 buyout) when I fucking see it. Later still, he suggested that both the Yankees and Jays are cool to the idea of a reunion with A.J. Burnett.

Salisbury isn’t necessarily entirely making stuff up, though, as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweeted that the Jays indeed were watching the Phillies this week.

It could be a reliever like Antonio Bastardo or Jonathan Papelbon, as Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Jays are one of many clubs that an executive with a reliever to shop told him had shown interest in that particular market (and Salisbury says they’re one of a number of teams on him in particular). Could be due diligence, of course. And maybe things have changed now that Aaron Sanchez is here (and, fingers crossed, that Steve Delabar might be showing something, too).

Another one via MLBTR is a look at the no-trade clause of John Danks, which — according to a tweet from my ‘Merkin friend MLB.com’s Scott Merkin — the Jays are on. Because of course they are.

Sticking in this realm, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com wrote on Tuesday about what it might take for a club to land Chase Headley, and he was kind of way off! For the Jays he figured something like a package of Sean Nolin and Dawel Lugo, which, with Nolin kind of just being a guy (for some reason I’m real soft on him) and Lugo struggling a bit and having some competition at his position in the system, would certainly be a palatable package to give up for something. Granted, maybe not a rental that hasn’t hit all year, but something.

Interesting thought by way of John Sickels’ report at Minor League Ball on the call-up of Aaron Sanchez, as he notes that “His strikeout rate is nothing special and he will give up some walks. However, he is one of the most extreme ground ball pitchers in the minor leagues, posting a 3.13 GO/AO ratio this year and a 2.34 GO/AO in 2013. His fastball has been clocked as high as 98 MPH, works consistently at 94-95, and has vicious sinking action.” Not something we necessarily didn’t know, but it sure made me think of how a guy like Ryan Goins would be useful behind a pitcher like that.

Speaking of Sanchez, over at FanGraphs, Blake Murphy looks at the Jays’ called-up top prospect and “the Trevor Rosenthal experiment,” looking at why the Jays have taken this path. “The most negative of Jays fans (and ghouls) would tell you that Sanchez is going to end up a reliever in the long run, anyway,” he explains, “given his declining strikeout rates and struggles with command. I don’t at all think that’s in play here, even if it’s not an outlandish suggestion. Sanchez is still just 22 years old. You let a top prospect like this fail as a starter before you think bullpen long-term; this is probably all about 2014.” Agreed.

At Baseball Prospectus this morning, Mark Anderson and Ben Carsley gave an in-depth look at Sanchez from a scouting perspective, profiling him thusly: “All told, Sanchez has two knockout pitches that will allow him to be successful in a major-league rotation, but he lacks the changeup and strike-throwing to profile as a front-line starter. Once established in the big leagues, he should provide very good mid-rotation performance and could have streaks where he dominates teams when his entire arsenal works at peak levels.” Anderson likes the move for the Jays, explaining that “Sanchez should be able to dominate burst outings on the back of his fastball and curve alone, and it should help him learn what it takes to put away big-league hitters as he looks toward a larger role in 2015.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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NOW THAT’S MORE LIKE IT. Except… ruh-roh!

Yeah… I got nothing. Nice to win one that didn’t require any heart-stopping moments or anything, though, eh? Actual runs were scored!

(Pro tip: if you want to read something interesting post-game, try Shi Davidi’s latest at Sportsnet, where he explains what a key cog Aaron Sanchez could be for this club, how today’s roster moves are more designed to setup the club for the impending return of Encarnacion, Lawrie, and Lind, and where he reveals that he’s heard the Jays “had far less interest in than has been reported” in Chase Headley, and that Alex Rios “isn’t on their radar.” Skip the bits about Ryan Goins potentially being useful if you need.)

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Welp. Let’s try this again.

I’d say more, but I think I’ve spilled enough words since last night about whatever the fuck is going on, and frankly… I’m not ready to think about what the hell might be about to happen.

Hey, but Aaron Sanchez is here! That’s something!

Scuttlebutt

Mike Wilner tweets that John Gibbons says Ryan Goins is “here to play.” Ugh. Better news, though, as he adds that Brett Lawrie swung a modified bat today. So… he’s progressing, at least, even if the thinking in the Jays’ front office about Goins necessarily isn’t.

Brenan Kennedy tweets that Gibbers says Sanchez will have his innings limited to about 130 this season. He’s at 100.1 so far in the minors. He adds that Gibbons says he’ll look to get Sanchez into games at the start of a clean inning, rather than with runners on, at least at first.

Another tweet from Kennedy tells us that while Steve Tolleson didn’t hit the paternity list today, his wife is due within the next couple of weeks.

John Lott tweets that Erik Kratz lost his spot mostly because the Jays aren’t scheduled to face any left-handed starters until they get to Fenway Park next week.

More from Lott: Gibbons on Francisco playing first base: “He can play it… you hope.” And on Goins: “He’ll play a lot out there.” Ugh.

Francisco is in there tonight over Dan Johnson, according to a tweet from Barry Davis, because of some microsplits. Great.

Ben Wagner tweets that in Buffalo last night, Steve Delabar had his best outing since being sent down: “4K in 2 scoreless. Velo +/- 95mph, nasty split.” Get him back up here if he keeps this up!

Megan Robinson tells us that Aaron Sanchez is the youngest pitcher on an MLB active roster right now. (By the way, he was drafted out of high school — where the Jays have focussed heavily — in Alex Anthopoulos’s first draft as GM. Think about that, maybe, before you complain about how so few of the guys he’s drafted aren’t in the big leagues yet).

Scott MacArthur notices that the Cubs have D’d Darwin Barney FA, calling him the right-handed Ryan Goins. Well, he’s got a .358 OBP against lefties this year, so Eno Sarris retweets a half-serious suggestion: Barney for Sergio Santos? I dunno, could be a thing.

The Blue Jays almost had Jose Bautista receive tonight’s “first pitch” — a serve from Milos Raonic — but thought better of it, according to a tweet from Barry Davis. Milos said that even if he took a lot off his serve, it would still be upwards of 100 mph, so… yeah, probably a good idea (though Buehrle did it, and it’s not like he’s a whole lot less crucial).

“There’ll be other seasons,” tweets a soulless ghoul.

AA Speaks (via some of my own tweets)

“Any time you see us linked to a player daily and it’s not from a Cdn-based media outlet, normally there’s not anything to it,” says AA.

Anthopoulos on Fan 590 says he’s talking trades, and about a specific player that he hasn’t heard out there as yet.

“We’re in a holding pattern for the next five or six days,” AA says he’s been told by another GM. Extra Wild Card changes calculations.

AA laying groundwork for disappointment? Says more may happen in August this year. (Believable, though, to be fair.)

No other plans or thoughts for Hutchison. “He’s going to make his next start,” Anthopoulos says.

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 7:07 PM ET vs. 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)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
C Dioner Navarro (R)
DH Colby Rasmus (L)
1B Juan Francisco (L)
3B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
2B Ryan Goins (L)
CF Anthony Gose (L)

LHP J.A. Happ

Boston Red Sox

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

RHP Jake Peavy

 

Image via @BKennedyStar.

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MEH.

Cue the insanity brigade. The Jays “missed out” on giving up a couple small pieces and paying about $2-million to replace a league minimum guy with an over-30 rental third baseman sporting an 88 wRC+ who has a herniated disc in his lower back that he’s playing through and received a cortisone shot for last month.

The Jays name has been attached to Chase Headley — formerly of the Padres, now of the Yankees — for a while now, but ultimately this one didn’t pan out. Those who are inclined to hissy fits surely will — or have already started to —  insist it’s either the money or some colossal fuck-up on the part of a bumbling GM that’s caused the team to BLOW ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY.

The sensible, on the other hand, might point to the fact that the Rogers Centre turf has a reputation for aggravating back injuries, the fact that Headley has been so awful, and the fact that the Jays’ ability to add to the payroll — to whatever extent they even have such an ability — is probably too limited to take such an expensive flyer. And that’s probably true even if the assets going the other way amount to nothing (the Yankees gave up once-hot journeyman Yangervis Solarte and High-A right-hander Rafael De Paula, and got $1-million for their troubles to boot!), and even if the flyer is on someone who has been much, much better in the past than this year.

If the Jays balked, I think it’s entirely understandable given the risk of Headley not working out. Shit, with Steve Tolleson going swimmingly against left-handers, Brett Lawrie getting back in a couple of weeks, and Jose Bautista potentially being able to move to third if an outfielder is acquired (or Nolan Reimold gets healthy and shows something), adding a guy like Headley would have been a nice luxury with a lot of potential if he gets healthy enough to start swinging the bat the way he’s shown before, but not really a necessity — certainly not on the level of a more expensive addition that we could feel more confident will actually give the club something at the plate.

The Yankees, on the other hand, are exactly the kind of place where you’d expect this type of player to land. They can afford to blow it. The Jays can’t.

Like everybody else I think there are many reasons why that shouldn’t be the reality under this ownership, given all the value the Jays’ cheap content provides them, but it is the reality. So please, spare us the frothing commentary about Alex Anthopoulos being asleep at the switch and maybe take a moment to contemplate the myriad reasons why it is what it is.

We all want the club to add good players, to save the farm, and show to that they’re willing to spend indiscriminately and unafraid that ownership will alter the deal and create major long-term ramifications for their doing so, and yes, adding a couple million to the 2014 payroll in order to give up so little and take a chance on a guy who put up 7.2 fucking WAR in 2012 really does seem to check off all of those boxes. But that’s simply not where this team is at, and that’s fine.

The Jays sure as fuck will give themselves a much better chance this year if they do something to address their needs, but that doesn’t mean they need to do every single thing that comes along or is rumoured. It’s dumb and frustrating as hell that it’s even believable that they’d be so severely limited in terms of budget that they might not have been able to make this one happen, but just because it’s believable doesn’t mean that’s necessarily what the case was. The Jays have had lots of scouts watching the Padres — possibly for Headley, possibly for Kennedy, or Denorfia, or Huston Street, or any number of players who could move (or already have) — but that doesn’t mean they wanted him at any cost.

Can they figure out something to make happen at a cost they can stomach? Let’s fucking hope so. Let’s fucking hope we’re not forced to watch this season go down the drain wondering where the incremental improvements that could have made it truly special were. Believe it or not, there is still plenty of reason to think it won’t go that way — that they won’t let it slip away without even having fucking tried — but in a couple of weeks that may not still be the case.

sanchezMTL
According to a piece from Shi Davidi at Sportsnet, Aaron Sanchez and Ryan goins are set to join the Jays on Tuesday. Sanchez is obviously the key one there, as the club’s long talked-about top prospect. He’ll be pitching out of the bullpen, where he’s made two appearances of late for Buffalo, and per MLBTR, will accumulate about 70 days of service time if he remains with the club for the rest of the season, which should leave him well short of Super Two status.

Nothing official has been announced, so we have no idea yet of the corresponding moves to make room on the active roster, and on the 40-man, but if I were Brad Mills, I probably wouldn’t be unpacking any more of my stuff right now. (Also, according to a tweet from Jamie Campbell, Tolleson will hit the paternity list, which makes the Goins move wholly more justifiable).

Update

Apparently with the bullpen getting their heads handed to them yesterday, even more changes are coming, as Shi Davidi has added to his piece an update suggesting that Esmil Rogers is on his way back to the Jays’ bullpen, too.

To be fair to Brad Mills he’s not as bad as a lot of people (understandably) think he is based on his career, his previous appearances with the Jays, and last night. After all, he was given four starts by the best team in baseball, and this season in the minors produced the lowest walk rate of any stint anywhere in his pro career, and his first strikeout rate above one-per-inning since 2008. However, now I really think he probably shouldn’t unpack.

Rogers has been working as a starter, and should allow Todd Redmond to stay in the short relief role he seemed to move into just before the break. In Esmil’s last five starts he’s allowed nine runs over 29.2 innings (2.73 ERA), with 20 strikeouts and 13 walks, and has thrown 65% of his pitches for strikes, though… we all know that Triple-A numbers don’t mean a hell of a lot. Still, some of the peripherals on him before he was sent down suggested that he might not have been as bad as he looked. Fingers crossed.

Fingers crossed that they won’t need to even think of ever moving him back into the rotation, too — and maybe we’re closer to preventing that eventuality, as Jeff Blair tweets that the Jays agree with a comment Joe Siddal was making on the radio last night: they think Hutchison was tipping his pitches. So… there’s that.

Update Update

It’s official. Alex Seixeiro of the Fan 590 tweets that Sanchez, Goins, and Esmil Rogers are up, Brad Mills is DFA, and Erik Kratz and Darin Mastroianni have been optioned back to Buffalo. OK? OK.

Yeah… so that wasn’t much fun, was it? And hooooooo fucking boy, did it ever bring out the stupid. All sorts of fun stuff about the Jays’ “dumpster diving” and Brad Mills and their need for a pitcher and Drew Hutchison’s home splits and the struggling hitters and their inability to beat the AL East and and and and and and and…

It sure does get a little bit suffocating to feel that to be a part of the conversation you need to push back against deluge of recency bias, especially when the only arguments you have to push with don’t offer a lot of comfort, doesn’t it?

But that’s really where we’re at right now.

The Jays’ bats should get better as the team returns to health from their recent bad run of key injuries. The starting pitching hasn’t been great, but it’s been decent enough and may yet see a reinforcement. The bullpen they should figure out, and shouldn’t have trouble finding cheap pieces with which to do so.

All of this is absolutely true, yet none of it means the Monsters Of May are going to suddenly return and rocket the club to the top of the AL East standings with no need to look back. Health may not be enough. More key players may get hurt and further test the already thin veneer of depth the club has built (which, to be fair, isn’t any different from the depth other clubs have). Shit, they may stay healthy and still not have the horses. And of course if they keep playing the way they’ve been playing since about the second week of June they aren’t going to have a hope in hell of being within sniffing distance when all is said and done.

But that’s just it — that’s why I say “recency bias”. Why would they? Why would anyone else?

The Rays and the Red Sox and the Orioles and the Yankees have been playing well of late, chipping away at what was once the Blue Jays’ lead, and fans have a tendency to believe that at whichever point they’re looking, that’s where reality is. The true talent, they seem to think, of the Blue Jays is what we’ve recently seen, just as the true talent of those other teams is what we’ve recently seen.

Ignore the fact that the Rays and Red Sox were so bad until just recently that the Jays had jumped massively out in front of them, and pretend they’re not capable of ever going that poorly again. Ignore how well we know this Jays team is capable of playing, and why there’s no honest reason to believe they can’t get close to that level again when healthy, and just start sulking because you think you’ve seen this movie before.

Then vent all these angsty feelings online and piss all over anyone who dares to push back against the reality that’s been constructed on this warped foundation.

It’s easy!

And it’s especially easy because nobody can say that the team hasn’t been playing poorly. Nobody can assure anyone that it’s all going to be OK. As in-fucking-sufferable as it is when folks roll their eyes at the suggestion that it’s early — even when it is unequivocally, inarguably still early (and you’d better believe it fucking well is) — you can almost understand why they do it, because it’s been early so many times before and hasn’t worked worked out in our favour in eons. As dumbfounding as it is to see people nitpicking on the club’s waiver wire acquisitions (seriously, find something significant to piss and moan about maybe), it’s not like we all don’t want to see them get better players than Brad Mills, it’s just these are mole hills being made into mountains (and, frankly, like many of the Jays’ other scrap heap finds the Mills thing made sense enough — Jenkins has options and wasn’t being used for more than four or five outs at most, so wasn’t really a long man replacement for Redmond, who it was reasonably decided should get a chance to work in short relief given how well he’s pitched and how poorly so many others have).

Add in the fact that they’ve been going so badly and yes, it’s frustrating. But it’s frustrating for everyone, and especially, I think, for that great many of us who clearly see a season hanging in the balance — fully capable of going either way as it plays out over an exciting, if often frustrating, next ten weeks — and are constantly being asked to view some tinfoil science project made by a hopelessly negative yahoo who either thinks he’s had some kind of “aha” moment or just wants to be the first jumping off the bandwagon screaming that the team is fucked.

Or maybe everyone like that is cool, and it’s all just me.

Whatever the case, I’m certainly having all kinds difficulty not getting sidetracked, and while I know I should be better at ignoring this stuff, when it’s your business to be immersed in the conversation it’s hard not to feel it all rumbling in your direction like a stupid fucking wave coming at you from three sections over as you’re trying to focus your gaze on a key pitch in a key at-bat in the top of the eighth inning with runners on, two outs, and the Jays clinging to a one-run lead. And like those who just can’t help themselves but join in the wave in a crucial moment, I know that everyone just wants to be part of the experience and have the right to cheer in whatever way they please, it’s just… watch the game! You’re ruining it for everybody else!! Watch what a season actually goes like! Watch how teams have ebbs and flows over the course of a year! Watch how a single game itself is never over in the third inning — watch how it’s never a time to start venting like a spoiled child where it may not end in utter embarrassment.

Just watch the damn game. Maybe even try to enjoy it.