Burn down the farm

After struggling with pitching all year, the Toronto Blue Jays went out Thursday and acquired a true ace: David Price.

When the Detroit Tigers decided to retool — something that reportedly happened Wednesday night — Price became available. Because Alex Anthopolous has continued to do what Alex Anthopolous does, Detroit knew he was very interested in the 2012 American League Cy Young winner and the two sides quickly worked out a deal.

What did Price cost the Jays? Three pitchers: one nearly MLB-ready (Daniel Norris), one potential back-end starter (Matt Boyd) and a big-armed long-shot (Jairo Labourt). With free agency looming for Price at the end of the season, that could be a lot for roughly 10 starts from Price. Or it could be a steal if the Blue Jays make the playoffs.

After trading for Price and then defeating the Kansas City Royals 5-2 on Thursday night, Fangraphs gave the Jays a 48.7% chance of making the playoffs. On Tuesday, after adding Troy Tulowitzki, they were given a 35.9% chance — and they were a sub-.500 team at that point. The odds-makers clearly like the moves and like the talent on this team. And here’s the thing: I suspect Anthopoulos isn’t done trying to make this team even better.

It’s widely held that Anthopoulos and his boss, Paul Beeston, are something of a package deal. If one goes, the other is likely to follow suit. It seems as though Beeston is done after this year and, if he is, Anthopoulos’s position will, at the very least, be reviewed. If the team doesn’t make the playoffs, he’s likely gone. If the team does make the playoffs, that could change everything. So there is currently no incentive for the GM to stop now.

Trade all the prospects.

Win now.

People say Toronto’s all-in, but there are still a lot of prospects to work with if the right deal(s) come around. Bring in another starter. Bring in a left-fielder.

Flags fly forever, but a shot at capturing the flag doesn’t present itself often. The AL East is not what it once was. Toronto is very close to a wild card spot. The Blue Jays have the best offence in baseball by a wide margin and now they have a truly elite pitcher to go along with that. Seize the day, Alex. You may not have another shot to do it with the Jays.

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Troy Tulowitzki is a Toronto Blue Jay

Troy Tulowitzki is having a down year.

The shortstop is hitting .300/.348/.471 with 12 home runs and 53 RBI through 87 games. By wRC+, a park-adjusted catch-all measure of a player’s offensive ability, Tulowitzki is the fourth best offensive shortstop in baseball this season.

Troy Tulowitzki is so good at baseball that numbers such as those above lead people to say he is having a down year.

Troy Tulowitzki is now a Toronto Blue Jay.

With Friday’s trade deadline approaching, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos pulled off a truly shocking trade in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. With the entire baseball world expect him to shore up his pitching staff — something he did, adding reliever LaTroy Hawkins along with Tulowitzki and, in all likelihood, is still trying to do — Anthopoulos made a major upgrade at shortstop.

Jose Reyes, despite some high-profile defensive lapses this season, is a premiere major league talent and he is paid accordingly. Reyes is owed $22 million in each of the next three seasons, though the third season can be bought out for $4 million. Nobody expected him to be traded. And yet Reyes is now with the Colorado Rockies.

To pry Tulowitzki and Hawkins from the Rockies, Toronto sent Reyes and minor-league pitching prospects Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco to the Mile High City. Reyes was much loved by teammates and fans, but a good shortstop and three prospects is a small price to pay for a potential Hall of Fame shortstop and a solid reliever.

The blockbuster trade further strengthens a lineup that is already the most dangerous in baseball by a large margin. While pitching remains a concern, it is less of a concern when the offence is even more dangerous.

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Jose Reyes injury. The worst.

I did not watch tonight’s game. Of course, the Jays won.

Of course, this also happened:

(GIF via Paul Sporer)

As of this writing, nobody knows exactly how long Reyes will be out, but here’s what we do know, via the numerous beat reporters (let’s give credit today to non-Rogers man Scott MacArthur) and just some plain basic facts:

  • Reyes heard something “pop”
  • Best case scenario, Reyes is out for a month. Worst case, three months.
  • General manager Alex Anthopoulos has already been talking with other GMs about trading for some infield help
  • Reyes is the best. Him getting hurt is the worst.
  • Mike McCoy is likely to get called up and see too much playing time.
  • Brett Lawrie can’t come back fast enough.
  • Reyes, usually an outstanding baserunner, slid late because he thought the pitch had been fouled off

I know I haven’t been active on the blog or on Twitter much lately, but I’m all too aware of the panic a lot of fans have been feeling because of the team’s slow start. I’ve been doing my best to talk sense into as many people as possible. “The Giants started 2-8 last year and won the World Series,” I say.

But right now, I feel the panic. It’s ridiculous, especially since there’s no real word on what’s wrong with Reyes, but this could hurt. Losing Reyes for three months could be a lot worse than a slow start. And seeing him cry? That’s worst of all.

Here’s hoping it’s not that bad.

And a quick update because the man himself tweets

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OK, Blue Jays. Let’s play ball

Twenty years ago, Brett Lawrie was three years old. Twenty years ago was also the last time the Blue Jays were legitimate contenders as the MLB season began. Unless Lawrie has some kind of superhuman memory, the 2013 season is the first he’ll experience in which the Jays are expected to do great things.

Yes, it’s really been that long.

I’m not here to say that anything fantastic is going to happen this year. It might, it might not. Everything might fall into place and a parade might have to be planned this fall. Everything might also go pear-shaped and, well, I don’t really want to think about what that might mean for this team.

What I do know is that, whatever happens, it should be fun.

Jose Reyes is a circus.

Jose Bautista’s at-bats are, until further notice, still much-watch.

Lawrie, for all his dude-bro-ness, is still entertaining.

Mark Buehrle does not screw around.

Brandon Morrow is amazing.

And R.A. Dickey, what can you say? Just watch this:

Tonight, the Blue Jays are back. I’m excited for this every year, but this year, for the first time since 1993, there’s something more to the excitement than just the return of ball — this year could mean something. Five, six, maybe even seven months from now, we could still be watching this team play for something.

Will they win the World Series? I sure hope so. Is it likely? No. But the odds are against every team. Wherever this season ends up, it should be a fun ride. Enjoy it.

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The Buffalo Bautistas going deep everyday

There are a lot of good things would come with the Blue Jays having their Triple-A squad in Buffalo, something that it seems like — if the rumours are true — could happen in the middle of next month.

There’s the obvious proximity factor and how much easier it would be for players to go up and down from the majors to Triple-A and vice versa. There’s the fact that the International League is much lesser hitter friendly than the ridiculous Pacific Coast League and is therefore much easier to get a true sense of the development and performance of both hitters and pitchers.

There’s the stadium, which by all accounts is great. Seriously, check out this review. The guy’s only real complaint is that there’s nothing around the stadium. Of course there’s nothing around the stadium. It’s downtown Buffalo. But that doesn’t mean Buffalo’s not worth the trip. Buffalo’s actually pretty great. Dont’ believe me? Visit the Old Pink and then try to tell me otherwise.

Anyway, look, did I mention the proximity? That’s key. You know how all the Blue Jays are hurt right now and they’re a bit painful to watch? As much as it sucks, things like this will happen again. If the Jays align with Buffalo, then we can all go watch the real Jays come back from their injuries and when Jose Bautista hits a grand slam during his rehab stint, you can be there in person!

Oh right, Jose Bautista hit a grand slam tonight in New Hampshire! Check it out:

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Jose Bautista: Steam train of awesome

Hola amigos. How’s tricks? I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I’ve pretty been bummed lately.

Brandon Morrow. Kyle Drabek. Drew Hutchison.

Ricky Romero’s not his usual self. Henderson Alvarez is falling hard and fast.

And now there’s a Shawn Hill to worry about. And maybe a Jeremy Guthrie?

Ugh.

Not a whole lot to be excited about as far as starting pitching goes.

But not all is bleak for Blue Jays fans. There is one bright spot on the team; one steam train of awesome that’s rolling over opponents left and right even if he can’t carry the team to victory by himself.

Jose Bautista is amazing.

Sure, there are other players to be excited about on the team. Plenty of them, actually. But if you’re like me and you’re feeling a little down about the team on the whole, there’s nothing quite like a solid Bautista bomb to cheer you up. For example, watch this ding dong he blasted last night.

Take that, baseball, indeed.

The great thing about Jose is that when he connects with one, and I mean really connects, everybody watching knows as soon as ball hits bat. As soon as Bautista connects, the only question is “how far past the outfield wall is this one going to land?” and that is a great question. It’s a question I don’t think I’ll ever tire of asking.

Edited to remove swears. We’re not DJF (if you’re confused, you can tell by the lack of profanity, the lack of frequency and the lack of quality).

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100% Free! No Malware!

Consider this a public service announcement.

The Toronto Blue Jays are offering a free browser theme for all Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome users. If you’re the type of person who likes to install browser themes, you might be tempted to install this one. It’s got your favourite team’s logo everywhere, the colours are just right and it comes with handy-dandy links to mlb.com and bluejays.com built right in. In addition, the site promises the theme is “100% Free” and has “No Malware.”

Tempting, eh? For some it might be, but I’m here to advise you against installing this browser theme. The following tweet from its developers prompted me to look into the theme:

I looked into the theme and I found this:

Now, I don’t know if the theme allows the Blue Jays or Brand Thunder (or maybe both?) to collect your personal information, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s not cool. Giving up my “data on all websites” is not the same as “100% Free.”

I only got this warning when attempting to install the theme on Chrome for Mac. Firefox didn’t give me the warning. Since I’m on a Mac, I can’t test IE. I can only assume this warning holds true for all browsers the theme supports.

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WPA: A stat for everyone (except Francisco Cordero)

I understand a lot of the resistance from old-school baseball people and fans to advanced stats. I really do. Advanced stats can be confusing and, because of both their naming and the math that goes into them, intimidating. There’s also the problem that, dammit, I just want to talk baseball and not what somebody might theoretically do over the next so many years, especially considering this or that park factor.

Can’t we just talk about what happened last night?

Can’t we just talk about where our team is in the standings and how they got there?

If the above describes how you feel, I sympathize. I’m not in total agreement, but I do share your feelings to a certain degree. And I have good news — if you’re like me and seeking a middle ground, at least — there is an advanced stat just for you! Continue reading

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Wayne Gretzky loves Brett Lawrie’s enthusiasm

I like Ron MacLean, but sometimes he leads things off the rails a bit. During the second intermission of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, MacLean managed to ask Wayne Gretzky a question that prompted a strange response.

Apparently The Great One loves Brett Lawrie’s enthusiasm and making mistakes is what sport is about. Or something. I don’t know.

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June 5, 2012 · 11:10 pm

Baseball at the top of the world

Baseball caps spotted over the course of a week in Iceland

New York Yankees: 3

Two obviously worn by tourists, one by a man who seemed to be local.

 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates: 1

Spotted at the airport. Guy was getting off the plane from Toronto, so I can only assume he was a tourist.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers: 1

Worn by a man who was unloading baggage from the plane. I can only assume he was local.

 

 

Minnesota Twins: 1

Man wearing this hat was definitely on vacation.

 

Salt Lake Bees: 1

Definite tourist.

Number of times reacted to my Blue Jays cap: 1

“Go Jays!” he said.

“Go Jays!” I said, before asking if he was from Toronto.

“Of course,” the guy responded. “Do you think there are Jays fans anywhere else?”

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