The Blue Jays Winter Tour is well underway and today we learned that Aaron Sanchez has been training this off-season with Marcus Stroman. We also learned that Sanchez had added 25 pounds, Sanchez stated that his goal was to build up durability in order to be in the starting rotation this season, although he also says he hasn’t been told by the team to prepare to start the season in the rotation. I would assume that the Jays would give Sanchez the chance to start this Spring and with Drew Storen addition it does give the Jays a little more depth in the back-end of the bullpen, and Sanchez’s addition to the rotation would improve what some experts have called a mediocre rotation. It would also most likely bump Jesse Chavez into bullpen as the long man, a role he has experience in as he was in that role in Oakland prior to last season.
We also learned thanks to a pair of Jamie Campbell tweets that Brett Cecil’s calf muscle that he injured in the playoffs is completely healed and he will be ready come the start of Spring Training next month. Campbell also tweeted that if the Blue Jays had made the World Series Cecil would have pitched thanks to the intensified treatment he received during the playoffs. That doesn’t really surprise me considering there was talk that if the Jays had advanced Cecil would have been available, I also remember hearing that he was throwing off a mound during one of the off days during the ALCS.
GIBBY ON SHORT LEASH?
Stephen Brunt made an appearance on The Brady and Walker show (watch here) on Tuesday and when asked about just how long of a leash John Gibbons has with the new regime Brunt responded with saying he thinks Gibby is on a short leash and if things go south early it could be a very different conversation. I know that Gibbons was Alex Anthopoulos’ hire and the new regime inherited him and he isn’t probably their first choice to manage the team but at the time of AA’s dismissal it would have added even more vitriol to the PR nightmare that was happening. I also think that Gibbons deserves a long leash this season, in fact he deserves the full season here at the very minimum. That’s what winning a division and winning a playoff round the previous season will do for a manager. I would like to think that all of this talk is just that. I’m smart enough to realize that sports talk radio shows in Toronto like to make something out of nothing, they’ve been doing it for years with the Maple Leafs. But, just for fun let’s go back to 2002 when Mark Shapiro took over as General Manager of the Indians, he inherited Charlie Manuel as the manager. Shapiro had every intention to have Manuel manage the Indians for the full season- and he would have-but Manuel, who was in the last year of his contract, approached Shapiro about a contract extension and wanted to know if he was in the teams plans beyond the 2002 season. Shapiro abruptly fired him.
The big difference with the two managers is that Gibbons is under contract for 2017 as well, thanks to his rolling option in his contract.
AA’s OTHER JOB OFFER
Thanks to Bob McCown we now know what one of Alex Anthopoulos’ other job offers were before signing on with the L.A Dodgers. McCown’s co-host on Prime Time Sports. McCown said on Tuesday (watch here) that he and AA had a long conversation about broadcasting and the possibility of AA becoming Bobcat’s sidekick. McCown has even gone as far as asking Anthopoulos to come in and co-host for a week. Thanks to the Dodgers, we will never now if AA would have been any good at radio. Maybe after he’s done with baseball he’ll get into radio.
The Blue Jays were busy Friday morning ahead of the 1 pm deadline to exchange arbitration figures signing six players.
The Blue Jays came to terms on one-year deals with Brett Cecil ($3.8million), Steve Delebar ($850,000), Drew Storen ($8.375 million), Aaron Loup ($1.05 million), Drew Hutchison ($2.2 million) and Michael Saunders ($2.9 million).
The Blue Jays were unable to come to terms with Jesse Chavez and American League MVP Josh Donaldson. The Blue Jays offered Chavez $3.6 million while he asked for $4 million. Donaldson asked for $11.8 million while the Blue Jays offered $11.375 million.
In Donaldson’s case, I know it is part of the process of the arbitration system, but to the fans that have endured a disappointing off-season going to arbitration over $450, 000 to the American League MVP just reeks of pettiness from an ownership that have been accused of being cheap. Realistically Donaldson should win his arbitration case so in the end he will most likely will get his $11.8 million dollars.
The Blue Jays are still a File and trial team so there won’t be any deals announced with Donaldson or Chavez before their arbitration cases.
This is the last year of arbitration for Cecil, Storen, Saunders and Chavez who will all be Free Agents at the end of the 2016 season.
Another day, Another Free Agent pitcher off the market as Scott Kazmir signed a three-year 48 million dollar deal with the Dodgers. The deal includes an opt out after one year. These opt outs have become to contracts today what no trade clauses were to contracts of the past.
Thing is, unlike Commissioner Rob Manfred, I think these opt out clauses are great for both the player and the ball club that signs said player. In Kazmir’s case if he has a great year with the Dodgers, which he probably will, he can opt out and gain even more money in signing a deal next winter because of the lack of depth and names in next years Free Agent class. Quite honestly with the type of money that has been thrown around on pitching this year how could you blame Kazmir or any other pitcher for asking for a opt out clause after a year or two, It’s not like the money tree that surrounds Major League Baseball teams is about to dry up any time soon.
It also is a sign of change in how front offices across baseball will have to do business with potential Free Agent signings. I said many times on twitter after the David Price trade that if the Blue Jays wanted to be competitively in on the Price market this winter, which they weren’t, that they would have to be willing to offer seven years at 210 million and offer an opt out after three or four years. Chances are that a player will opt out when the clause in the contract kicks in, and in Price’s case, it would allow the team to get out of having to pay him in his declining years.
Having said all that, it’s a fact that in the future if the Blue Jays want to be competitive with Free Agent starting pitchers down the road then they will have to include the reality of having to offer up opt out clauses in the negotiations. In fact in any long-term negotiations with an elite pitcher in his prime if I was the one in the negotiating room I would insist on an opt out clause after three to four years for the very reason I pointed out about not being stuck paying big money during a pitchers declining years. I’m sure though that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins have that all figured out seeing that they are intelligent guys, despite what some fans would have you believe.
With the list of available arms, both starters and relievers, dwindling as we enter January it is becoming more apparent to me that the Blue Jays will leave both Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna in the bullpen for 2016. There isn’t room in the Starting rotation like there was last season, and with an open competition for the fifth spot between Drew Hutchison, Jesse Chavez and
Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez up coming this spring, and the lack of depth in the pen, it’s safe to say the pen is where the pair will be in 2016. The current bullpen for the Blue Jays is Osuna, Sanchez, Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, Bo Shultz and one of either Chavez, Hutchison or an arm off whats left of the free agent scrap heap. Out of those names there are only three pitchers that I would consider trusting in a high leverage spot, Osuna, Sanchez and Cecil. I would have included Tepera and his good numbers against lefties but with Cecil being dominant against lefties it cancels out any advantage that you would get with Tepera.
It also brings up another discussion. An idea I saw on a Facebook group through a tweet that may really seem at first like a ridiculous idea but the more I think about it the more I think it’s a move the Blue Jays may have to think about if they want to improve their pitching. Trading Devon Travis for pitching help. I know it seems crazy but with the emergence of Ryan Goins showing that he can handle the rigors of playing every day at second base and making big improvements at the plate, it really is an idea that I can get behind. Of course the one problem with the idea that wasn’t brought up is the fact that Travis is coming off of exploratory shoulder surgery and there is no guarantee they were able to fix what was ailing him in the first place, there is also the thought that he could now be tagged as injury prone which would drop his trade value. Lastly Travis isn’t expected to be ready until late April or early May and I’m going to be real curious to see if he is able to carry over this year’s numbers before the injury into next season. Here’s hoping that he can. Of course they could always hang onto Travis in case, and there is a really good chance it happens, Troy Tulowitzki goes down with an injury during the season. As they say, you can never have enough depth. Right?!?
I suppose there is always that hope that the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona can find himself this spring and be a contributor to the big club. Heck, maybe Drew Hutchison will find his old form from a year ago and show that this years form was a blip on the radar screen.
Either way, watching the pitching battles this Spring should be awfully interesting.
It’s been 22 years since Joe Carter’s touch em all home run in 1993, and for the first time since then the Toronto Blue Jays After technically clinching a playoff spot late last night thanks to some people doing some mathematical equations, the Blue Jays celebrated in style this afternoon by winning a slug-fest over Tampa Bay 10-8.
The Blue Jays had a celebration in the clubhouse after the game, it wasn’t a super crazy type of celebration like you usually see when teams win something, the bigger celebration will happen when the Blue Jays are able to clinch the division. The division lead stands at four with eight games left.
Today’s win made the playoff clinching feel a little more real, seeing the celebration in the clubhouse it makes it feel like it’s more than just a dream, the dream the Blue Jay fans have allowed themselves to take part in since Alex Anthopoulos made the moves at the trade deadline. At the time of the deadline I think most Blue Jays fans thought realistically that the Wild Card was probably going to be the Jays shot at the postseason. At the time the Yankees were in first place eight games ahead of the Blue Jays.
This Blue Jays club gelled quickly and went on an 11 game win streak in early August and made up the eight game gap within two weeks. It should also be noted that many of us thought that if the Jays were to get back into the division picture it would be those thirteen games against the Yankees. The Blue Jays went 9-4 against the Yankees in those 13 games.
I’m happy for the fan base that had to endure 22 years of mediocrity, some of those years down right ugly, they had to endure some really crappy ownership. The 22 years without having meaningful September baseball. I’m happy for the three Blue Jays that were a part of this team pre 2012, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Cecil. We won’t have to say anymore that we have wasted the productive years of their careers. Cecil, who came up as a starter showed a ton of promise and then struggled to stay in the big leagues and then resurrected his career in the bullpen and has become one of the Blue Jays best relievers.
I’m happy for John Gibbons, he was wrongly run out of town by then GM J.P Riccardi in 2008, and then took a ton of crap from of the fan base when AA brought him back in the fall of 2012, and when things quickly fell apart in 2013 the calls for his head, even early this season when it looked like things were headed for a downward spiral in late May there calls for Gibby to be let go. It was nice to see him in the postgame press conference seeing him with his small glass of champagne and being finally able to celebrate a victory.
I’m happy for Alex Anthopoulos who over the past couple of years had taken a lot of crap for not making moves at the deadline. Let’s not forget that AA was the one that took over the unenviable task of rebuilding the farm system that J.P Riccardi had left rather bare, he also made some great trades to restock the system and shed some rather large contracts along the way. He also did a great job of drafting and developing prospects. It was because of the development of these young prospects that the Jays were able to make the moves that they did at the deadline.
To clinch a postseason spot is nice, but the division is this teams main goal. When they do clinch the division it should be fun to see what this team does for an encore!
October baseball is going to be a real thing for the first time in 22 years, buckle up and enjoy it, it’s gonna be fun!
The StrowShow was well worth the price of admission on Wednesday night. Marcus Stroman’s start against the Yankees was arguably the biggest game of the year, or 22 years if you want to get technical, and with all the hype and expectations Stroman lived up to his StroShow billing as he pitched seven shutout innings allowing five hits striking out five while only walking one. Stroman made it look easy at times as his slider was excellent and he used it early and often. For a team that didn’t have an Ace in July it’s safe to say now they have two of them.
With Stroman’s return it undoubtedly gave the Blue Jays yet another Ace for their rotation and to me the way Stroman has pitched in his three starts he definitely will be on the potential playoff roster and to be totally honest my playoff rotation would look like Price for game one, Stroman for game two, Dickey in game three and Buehrle for game four. I would use Marco Estrada as the swing man out of the pen. The only reason I would do that is because Estrada has done that in the past, meanwhile Buehrle hasn’t worked out of the pen since 2000.
Russell Martin hit arguably the biggest home run this season for the Blue Jays as his three run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning iced the game away. Martin has definitely been worth every penny that he is getting paid this year, from working with the pitching staff to coming up with timely home runs. His postseason experience will come in handy for the Blue Jays this October.
Brett Cecil worked a scoreless eighth inning and has easily become the Blue Jays most reliable reliever and has recorded some pretty huge outs for the Blue Jays, none bigger than his three strikeouts in Monday’s win over the Yankees. Cecil who had his rough patch in June, has been an absolute beast since then, and his curveball may be the filthiest in all of baseball.
Alex Anthopoulos acquired David Price for games just like tonight. And like every other start since he became a Blue Jay he did not disappoint. Price was dominant as he pitched seven shutout innings he allowed only two hits walking one while striking out seven. The only inning that the Yankees threatened when Price pitched was the third inning when Price escaped a bases loaded one out jam by striking out Alex Rodriguez and getting Brian McCann to pop out.
The Blue Jays were able to take advantage of Adam Warren and his Yankee teammates miscues in the first inning as they plated three runs in the first inning. Ben Revere led off the inning with a single, Josh Donaldson was hit with a pitch, Jose Bautista would hit a single to plate Revere, Donaldson and Bautista would move up on a wild pitch. Donaldson would score on a Encarnacion ground out. Justin Smoak would hit a double which would cash in Bautista. The Blue Jays offence would stay quiet until the seventh when they would add a run on a Russell Martin Sac Fly.
John Gibbons wasn’t messing around tonight as he pulled Aaron Sanchez after allowing the first two hitters to reach in the eighth inning. Brett Cecil was brilliant yet again, after allowing a single to Jacoby Ellsbury he struck out Brett Gardner, Rodriguez and McCann. I thought with the lefty heavy lineup that Gibby would have started the inning with Cecil. It does bring up the question though, is it time to re-evaluate Sanchez’s role in the bullpen? He may have gotten slightly unlucky on the groundball up the middle, but walking the first hitter he faced and then falling behind to Ackley didn’t help. With the way Mark Lowe has been pitching it is time to move him into higher leverage situations.
Roberto Osuna had a bounce back effort even though he did allow a home run in the ninth. I wouldn’t be to worried about it unlike some of the media members in Toronto that seemed to be awfully worried about the amount of home runs that Osuna has allowed. There have only been the two home runs that cost the Jays the lead , the other home runs didn’t matter to the outcome of the game.
The good news is the Red Sox are leaving town and the Blue Jays will not have to see them again till next April.
The bad news, the Sox took two of three games from the Blue Jays this weekend.
Today it was defensive miscues that cost the Blue Jays as they committed three errors on the day, two of which were committed by pitchers and the third one they could have easily ruled a hit. Mark Buehrle had a throwing error in the fourth inning on a play where he would have been better off holding onto the ball, chances are the run would have scored later in the inning instead of scoring on the throwing error. The error that did cost the Jays was Brett Cecil’s fielding error in the eighth inning on Pablo Sandoval’s grounder. Cecil rushed to make the play and in the end didn’t end up making the play at all. Sandoval would later score on a sac-fly off of Mark Lowe.
There are some positives to take away from what was a disappointing weekend. The starting pitching looked good. Marcus Stroman was brilliant on Friday night, R.A Dickey pitched well enough to win and deserved a better fate than what he was dealt, and perhaps the most encouraging news was Mark Buehrle’s outing wasn’t all that bad. Buehrle had a Buehrle type outing he had some unfortunate bounces go against him but he was able to go six innings and he kept the Blue Jays in the game.
Dioner Navarro who came into the game swinging a hot bat recently got the Jays offence on the board with a two run home run in the second inning. How many Blue Jays fans are happy that Alex Anthopoulos didn’t trade him during the season? He’s become awfully valuable to the Blue Jays this season. I mean really, if the Jays had moved Navarro the Jays would have been stuck with Josh Thole.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the Blue Jays not scoring the tying run in the bottom of the ninth was not getting to see how the Blue Jays infield defence would have looked in the tenth inning. With Ryan Goins, Cliff Pennington and Darwin Barney all out of the game the Jays came awfully close to using Russell Martin at second, Martin, however was taken out for a pinch runner. John Gibbons admitted that the infield defence in the tenth would have been Munenori Kawasaki at second, Josh Donaldson at short and Jose Bautista would have come into play third base. How much fun would that have been to watch?
The Blue Jays did get one step closer to clinching a playoff berth despite the loss as the Minnesota Twins defeated the Los Angeles Angels. The Magic number to clinch a playoff spot is now down to five games.
The Blue Jays are going to catch a break for this upcoming series with the Yankees as Masahiro Tanaka has been scratched from Wednesday’s start with a hamstring strain. Ivan Nova, who the Jays crushed in New York last week will start in his place.