Reflections on the Winter Meetings

kendrick2To quote from Jayson Stark’s article on ESPN, we just experienced “the wildest 48 hours in the history of the winter meetings.” And given the flurry of deals that transpired, that feels about right.

After sitting back and digesting what’s occurred to the baseball landscape, perhaps what’s most glaring is the fact that big power-houses like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox don’t dare give young players the chance to prove themselves – or put another way, to fail. This I find unfathomable, and yet I recognize that this opinion may just result from being a fan of a team that operates under a budget, like the Blue Jays or Reds for example, compared to those mentioned that have little regard for spending limits. Heck, the word “budget” is probably foreign to them… Continue reading→

Examining the Blue Jays Bullpen

Toronto Blue Jays versus the Boston Red SoxLast Friday in the shocking Brett Lawrie and Josh Donaldson trade, the Blue Jays sent to Oakland two pitching prospects that otherwise would have served as good minor league depth pieces. Gone are Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman, who made their debuts with the Jays, which now forces Toronto to save the depth they currently have on the big league roster. This simply paves the way for Aaron Sanchez, who is too good to waste in Triple A Buffalo, to start the year in the bullpen so that they can maintain spots for J.A. Happ in the rotation and Marco Estrada as the swingman…Continue reading→

In Defense of R.A. Dickey

dickey raIan Hunter of published an interesting article the other day regarding R.A. Dickey’s teammate-ability which stemmed from Jeff Blair’s interview with Blue Jays’ play by play voice Jerry Howarth. In it, Blair noted how he thinks Dickey has a “benign influence” – that is zero influence on his team. While it’s absolutely a plausible statement to make – many of us can very simply see on the broadcasts how the Blue Jays’ young guns clearly gravitated around Mark Buehrle – at the same time, I’ve also observed Dickey usually conversing with teammates on a one-on-one basis in a more intimate and private setting. So to say zero influence may be a bit much.

As far as Dickey’s “hermit-like personality” goes, I definitely get that. He’s been through many life-altering events as was detailed in his book, Wherever I Wind Up, and in my view, perhaps has evolved enough in his life where he’s sufficiently confident in himself to be his own man.  In other words, he could have a solidly formed identity of self where he knows what he is (an instrument of God as he details in said book) and as such doesn’t need to be well-liked or to fraternalize to feel like he’s a part of the team. Furthermore, the guy cheated on his wife and still managed to salvage the relationship. That speaks to a devotion and level of commitment to make things right with his family, and perhaps he realizes what is more important; after all, baseball is just a game.

Howarth goes on to say that Dickey’s been very “difficult to get to know”, a “man unto himself on an island”, which isn’t the first time he’s mentioned this idea to his radio audience. This anti-social behaviour towards Howarth is certainly more baffling and therefore more difficult to defend because in my mind who wouldn’t want to establish a relationship with your own team’s radio voice – someone who is more likely to sing your praises to the home town faithful.

In the Blair interview, Howarth also commented on Buehrle, saying “It’s not about him”, which implies that he’s there for his teammates as a supporter, a listener, and someone who takes younger players under the proverbial wing. Ego isn’t involved with Buehrle and therefore, he puts the team ahead of himself. Howarth can’t say the same about Dickey. Still, is it right to bemoan a person that you don’t yet know?

Dioner Navarro Wants Out of Toronto

dioner-navarro-mlb-toronto-blue-jays-tampa-bay-raysAccording to Jon Heyman of CBS, Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro wants out as Toronto has opted to sign free-agent catcher Russell Martin to take over the primary catching duties on the Blue Jays’ roster. While Martin is clearly an upgrade, Navarro produced solid results in his first year as full-time catcher since 2009. He started 102 games behind … Continue reading→

Update: I found out from listening to Alex Anthopoulos’ radio interview on TSN that Navarro hasn’t exactly asked for a trade, but that AA himself said he would explore a trade for him to benefit his career and have an opportunity to play everyday, which he wants. Otherwise, Navarro apparently is very understanding of the situation and will still look forward to coming to spring training with Toronto and prepare for the season ahead with the team.

Anthopoulos: Villain or Hero?

There's no telling what Anthopoulos has in the cards.

There’s no telling what Anthopoulos has in the cards.

The Dark Knight – kind of made me think of Alex Anthopoulos over the course of the last week especially when you think about how Batman played the villain, but in actuality was the hidden hero. Anthopoulos is definitely getting villainized right now, rightly so I might add, however there’s no telling what he has in mind. By all accounts, he’s set his targets on some players to trade for or sign via free agency – all of which are up in the air until he can talk to agents following Tuesday’s start to free agency.

Flexibility is one thing that every beat reporter, and Anthopoulos himself, is pointing at as one goal to accomplish this offseason. However, trading Lind away for likely a long reliever is hardly ideal, especially how he’s been an asset the last two years. True, his back has landed him on the DL several times and Anthopoulos has talked about having players who are consistently healthy. It’s too bad his roster doesn’t possess much of those position player types though.

I understand the benefit in dealing Lind frees up occasional DH time for Reyes and any one else who’s hurting or needing rest. With Reyes at DH, one of Encarnacion or Lind would have to sit due to their positional inflexibility. Still, it pangs me to say I wish Reyes was capable of playing his position adequately and the need to spell him at times wasn’t necessary. Then Anthopoulos could have kept his core intact in the middle of the lineup. (Cue pent-up anger).

From a blogger’s perspective, the Orioles and Athletics appear to be two organizations to try and model the Jays after. The A’s utilize platoons that create roster depth and flexibility. The O’s as well had flexibility all over the diamond with good depth too (not mediocre like the Jays seem to have) to cover all their injuries. The thing is though, how many platoons can you reasonably have? As things stand now, the Jays have platoons lined up in LF, CF, 2B, DH or 1B (depending on where Encarnacion plays); that equals too many weak players in my book.

In terms of tradable solutions, I look at the Dodgers who could potentially offer 2B or 3B or RP help via trade in return for a Happ or even Buehrle conceivably. Similarly in Cleveland, there’s talk of moving someone like a Bourn, Kipnis or Chisenhall, so possibilities might pop up there. Pittsburgh too has a logjam at first base where Pedro Alvarez could be available, but I think Toronto now wants to target more contact type players who put the ball in play as opposed to being prone to the dreaded K.

As much as I dislike the Jays picking up Justin Smoak while still keeping Juan Francisco on the roster, the off-season has just begun. Anthopoulos still has time to turn himself from villain to hero.

Royals vs. Giants Postseason Comparison

WS royals-giants2With two Wild Card teams in this year’s World Series, baseball’s postseason couldn’t be more exciting. Consider the fact that the San Francisco Giants are once again playing for the championship in an even-numbered year, and the Cinderella Kansas City Royals haven’t made the playoffs in 29 years and yet have swept the Angels and Orioles to go 8-0 in the playoffs to make it to the Promised Land.

Let’s have a closer look at these two playoff teams to see how they stack up thus far as they prepare for the start of the World Series…Continue reading→

Blue Jays’ 2015 Budget and Free Agent Targets

anthopoulos1The fact that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has stated that none of his stars are going anywhere, it gives fans some hope that maybe there’s another kick in the can somewhere with the current core – not without some hopeful roster additions though. But how much money will Anthopoulos have to work with?

Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star accurately surmised that, as of right now, the Jays have will have a 2015 payroll of approximately $127.7 M…Continue reading→

Blue Jays 2014 Post-Mortem

Image via Ian at BlueJayHunter.

Image via Ian at BlueJayHunter.

Anxiousness; that is one word on how I would characterize this Blue Jays season from the fan’s perspective since at no point, aside from May and early June, were the Jays playing at a level where all cylinders were clicking. Don’t get me wrong, watching the Jays in first place for 45 days was superbly fantastic, but then bit by bit, they wilted down and limped into September needing a hot month to get back into the playoff picture. Their 9-2 record from August 30th to September 10th got fans excited again, but like the extreme streakiness they’ve been known for this season, it didn’t last…Continue reading→

Being in the Zone: Is It Sustainable?

mind3 originalThink back for a moment to the July 4th game in Oakland where the Blue Jays lost 1-0 in 12 innings and left ten runners on base. Steve Tolleson just led off the top of the 5th with a double. What do you think the next three hitters were thinking? Were they fretting over failure in this situation, or were they calm and focused in the batters box, totally relaxed and confident?

When hitters get into hot streaks or are thought of as being clutch, they … Continue reading→

8 Reasons Why the Padres Are the Nicest Organization in MLB

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8. Giving Jason Lane a chance – At 37 years old, Jason Lane has made a remarkable comeback to the major leagues – as a pitcher – and the Padres granted him this opportunity despite average stuff. He appeared in two mop-up situations out of the bullpen in early June and then was promptly designated for assignment. Lane cleared waivers, was recalled to make a spot start on July 28th and pitched pretty darn well through six innings, but ended up … Continue reading→