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.
It will be a Happy New Year at John Gibbons’ house in San Antonio as his 2017 option has been picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Thanks to the way former Jays G.M Alex Anthopoulos structured Gibbons contract when he was brought back as Manager in November 2012 it guarantees that as long as he is employed by the ball club on January 1st his option for the following season is automatically picked up. It also now means that Gibbons now has an option for the 2018 season included with his contract.
Anthopoulos went this route with Gibby’s deal to avoid the situation that occurred during John Farrell’s tenure as manager in Toronto, when after his first season questions were raised about his future in Toronto when rumors that the Red Sox wanted to hire him to fill their managerial opening. The rumors came back in the second half of the 2012 season when it was mentioned that Farrell wanted to back to Boston to take on his dream job, there were also plenty of questions regarding an extension and the possibility of being a lame duck manager had Farrell been with the Blue Jays in 2013.
Gibbons will be entering his tenth season as manager, his fourth season since being re-hired in November of 2012. Gibbons only trails Cito Gaston on the Franchise list for games managed with 1092. In 2015 Gibbons enjoyed his most successful season as the Blue Jays manager as the Blue Jays won 93 games en route to an American League East title and a trip to the ALCS for the first time since 1993.
Gibbons holds a career record of 555-541.
Major League Baseball surprisingly announced the start times for the first three games of the Division Series Monday. I actually thought that MLB would wait until the outcome of the Wild Card game Tuesday night before any announcements would be made. The start time for Game One on Thursday is dependent on the outcome of the Wild Card game, if the Yankees win then the game’s first pitch is scheduled for 4:07 pm and if the Astros win first pitch will go at 3:37 pm. Game two will go at 12:45pm on Friday and Game three on Sunday night in Texas will go at 8:10 pm.
There seemingly has been an awful lot of complaining about the start times by some fans but if any of them have paid attention in the past they would know that lots of Division Series games get scheduled for early afternoon and late afternoon starts. It’s also no shock that it’s the Networks call on the scheduling leaving the big US markets like New York in Los Angeles in the Prime time slot. Even in the World Series years the Blue Jays had weekday afternoon starts during the ALCS so this really shouldn’t catch people off guard like it has. And if your looking for a good excuse note to get out of work the Blue Jays VP of Business Stephen Brooks had this beauty of a tweet this afternoon to help you out.
Dear [insert boss' name], due to a terrible cold, I must be home by 3:37pm on Thursday and 12:45pm on Friday. Doctor's orders. Thanks
— Stephen R Brooks (@sbrooksbaseball) October 5, 2015
TIME TO FOCUS ON THE PLAYOFFS
Everyone get all their complaining of John Gibbons handling of the line-ups and starting pitchers the last few days out of their system? You would never known the Blue Jays had won the division with the amount of ugliness that became of Blue Jays twitter on Thursday and then again on Sunday as Gibby was vilified by his critics for giving Mark Buehrle the start yesterday. Just imagine the outrage that would have happened if a star player had gotten hurt on Thursday playing in the crappy conditions in Baltimore. Once the Blue Jays clinched it was the right move to make sure that the players were rested and ready to go for the playoffs. As for the decision to start Buehrle, I didn’t have an issue with trying to get him his 200 innings, Buehrle is very well respected in the clubhouse and the it meant a lot to the players in that room that Gibby gave Buerhle the chance to get to 200. It didn’t work out but in the end it was still the right move, and a classy one at that. Just remember, if Buehrle hadn’t got the start it would have went to Drew Hutchison and we all know how he pitched in the month of September.
So lets all calm down and get ready to enjoy the Division Series, the Blue Jays won the East!
The Blue Jays finished up their four game series in Baltimore by dropping a 6-4 decision to the Orioles. The Blue Jays fielded their “B” team. The Blue Jays plan to play their regular line-up when they start their three game series in Tampa Friday night.
There seems to have been quite the backlash about John Gibbons electing to rest his regulars two games in a row instead of keeping the pedal down and going for the top spot in the American League and having homefield advantage throughout. I agree on how Gibby handled it, the weather situation in Baltimore dealt the Jays a raw hand to begin with. The plan all along was if the Jays won the first game they would rest their starters in game two, makes sense, especially if the division is clinched you don’t want to be stuck having your starters have to play two games in one day especially this late in the season. I also don’t mind the way things were handled Thursday with the Jays running out the same “B” squad line-up. With the not so wonderful forecast pushing the game up till noon it was going to be a no brainer that Gibby wasn’t going to play his regulars. It became even more apparent why he didn’t when the game started in a steady rainfall. It’s not worth risking an injury at this point in the year playing a game against a team that is long out of it this close to the playoffs when they have the division clinched.
Here’s the other point to think about. Lets say for argument’s sake that the Royals and Blue Jays have the same record going into the weekend, the Blue Jays hold the tiebreaker because they won the season series with the Royals. So in essence the Jays hold a one game lead on the Royals. If the Jays win two of three in Tampa this weekend the Royals would have to sweep the Twins, let’s also not forget that the Twins are only a game out of the wild card spot in the AL so it’s not like they’re not playing for anything.
It should also be noted that because the American League won the All-Star game having the homefield advantage only applies to the ALCS and that still would only matter if the Royals made it and didn’t get bounced in the first round, with the way they’ve played in September that’s not totally out of the realm of possibilities either.
It looks like the Blue Jays will have Troy Tulowitzki back in the lineup as early as Saturday. Tulo will face live pitching during a simulated game on Friday in Tampa, if all goes well the plan is to have Tulo play on Saturday in Tampa. With the AL East now wrapped up the Blue Jays have also announced that David Price’s next start will be the ALDS opener in Toronto next Thursday. Price is scheduled to throw in the simulated game in Tampa tomorrow to keep him ready for the playoff opener on next week.
OWN A PIECE OF HISTORY
Well, it didn’t take long for Roger to find away to make some profit on last night’s celebrations in Baltimore. A champagne bottle and one of the corks are now up for auction on the teams website. The current bid for the champagne bottle is currently at $210.00. The current bid for the cork is $55.00
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 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.
Well, that felt like a kick in the gut.
These emotions go along with the time of year, it’s what happens in a pennant race. You win some, you lose some. It’s all apart of the process, enjoy it for what it is because for the last 22 years you weren’t able to say that the Blue Jays were in a pennant race.
The biggest thing is how does a team and more importantly Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez bounce back from this. Sanchez who suffered the loss in Tuesday nights game pitched a scoreless inning in last nights game, so take from it what you will. Osuna, who bounced back nicely from blowing a save at the end of August, and had looked really good his last few outings should be fine as well. Remember, he has pitched in many big spots and has come up big. It’s one game, better they have a game like this now instead of against the Yankees or in a playoff game.
The other thing to take away from the loss was the fight to the end that the Blue Jays put up. It would have been easy to throw in the towel but thanks to a Jose Bautista two run homer and a Matt Hague pinch hit double hit to the deepest part of the ball park the Blue Jays had the tying run in scoring position at the end of the game.
Really like the way John Gibbons managed the game today, yeah it didn’t work out but sometimes that is going to happen. Although maybe next time he brings Sanchez in to a game maybe the bases should be empty, Sanchez hasn’t done a great job of stranding inherited runners. Some of the comments I read after the game about Gibby from the so called Bandwagon fans were annoying, some calling for Gibby’s head.
I suppose a game like this points out the lack of another left handed pitcher that can be used in a high leverage spot. It would have been nice if Gibby could have gone to a left hander to face David Ortiz in the ninth inning instead of using Sanchez there. But when your only left handed options are Aaron Loup and Jeff Francis in that spot then you stick with Sanchez. Remember Sanchez is a young pitcher and as he gains experience he will only get better. I still think he is better served being used out of the bullpen than in the rotation, I said it last winter and I’m still sticking to that statement now.
Lastly, to all the fans that were overreacting to the loss today, relax, it’s one game. It’s late in September and the Jays are up 3.5 in the AL East and have a magic number of six! And this team is a ton of fun to watch as well.