Category Archives: Toronto Blue Jays

Science which has been dropped about the Toronto Blue Jays base ball squadron.

Today in good deals for the Blue Jays

For the last two seasons in Toronto, most Jays fans seem to have fallen into one of three camps when it comes to Brandon Morrow:

  1. Dude is AMAZING!!1
  2. He’s got great stuff, but what the hell? Why is he so frustrating?
  3. Morrow’s pitching? UGH. WHY BOTHER WATCHING? He SUCKS.

While I think hope nobody reading this falls into that third group, the second group is, rightfully, highly populated. In fact, I find myself in that second group most times, but Morrow’s got something that makes me and a lot of other people believe that he could make the leap into the AMAZING!!1 category — and he could do it as soon as this season.

Even the experts at Fangraphs think highly enough of Morrow to draw some comparisons between him and Justin Verlander. That’s some pretty high praise for Morrow and if the comparison turns out to even be fractionally valid, Toronto’s in a good place for at least the next four years.

Why four years? Because the Blue Jays just signed Morrow to a three-year extension worth $20 million. The deal also includes a $10-million option for the 2015 season.

At just under $7 million a season, Morrow’s a steal — even if he doesn’t improve all that much.

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How posting works (or don’t believe rumours about Darvish)

If you follow sports at all, there’s a good chance you’ve heard misleading or downright incorrect reports about Yu Darvish and his posting. If you live in Toronto and have eyes or ears, you’ve definitely heard these frustratingly wrong reports.

To be fair, the posting system which allows Japanese players who are still controlled by their Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) team is a murky, complicated and secretive process. It is easy to get confused about these things if you don’t know how the process works. It’s especially easy to get confused when rumour mongers can’t help themselves from tweeting and reporting every utterance they hear (whether it’s actually heard or just in their head).

Now, as the deadline for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (Darvish’s Japanese team) to  either accept or reject the highest bid to come from MLB teams, let’s take a look at what we actually know about the situation:

Is Darvish coming to Toronto?

As of right now, anybody speaking in certainties about which team Darvish is going to play for next year is talking out of their ass. The fact of the matter is that, until a bid is accepted, NOBODY knows. Not even Darvish himself (OK, maybe he’s been told, but he doesn’t officially know). I know that sounds a little crazy, but it’s a function of the posting process. Read on and it will, I hope, become clear.

How does posting work?

Once a player is posted by his NPB team, there are three steps to the process:

  1. MLB teams have a 4-day window to submit sealed bids to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. When that 4-day window closes, Selig goes over the bids and notifies his Japanese counterpart of the high bid. At this point the only people who know what the high bid is and which team it came from are the two commissioners and whatever trusted henchman they may have had in the room with them.
  2. NPB Commissioner Ryozo Kato notifies the posted player’s team of the high bid. The Japanese team has a 4-day window to decide whether to accept the bid.
  3. If the NPB team accepts the bid, the MLB team which offered the bid has a 30-day window to negotiate a contract with the posted player. If a contract is reached, the NPB team keeps the posting fee*. If the team and player are not able to reach an agreement, the posting fee is refunded to the MLB team that failed to sign the player.

* It’s important to note that the posting fee is completely separate from the player contract. A posting fee of, say, $50 million is completely separate from a $50-million contract awarded to the player. Those two examples would result in the MLB team spending $100 million on the player.

So where are we right now?

The process for Darvish is nearing the end of the second step. Any rumours you’ve heard to date about where Darvish is going and for how much, well, those are just rumours.

Would it be cool if the Blue Jays land Darvish? Hell yes. But, if even the Jays win the bidding process, there’s no guarantee the Japanese star will land in Canada.

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New uniforms: A pro weighs in

Looky there! A new-fangled slideshow thingy!

And looky here! A review of the new Blue Jays uniforms from a a bonafide fashion expert!

Toronto-based fashion writer and friend of the blog Emma Yardley has helped us out in the past. What makes her qualified to give a professional review of the new uniforms? Lots of things! Not the least of which is the fact she is the Associate Editor of sweetspot.ca. She has been featured in too many magazines and newspapers for me to list here. AND she’s on twitter and blogs about fashion.

So what does Emma have to say about the new uniforms?

Obviously, the Blue Jay’s design team took what I said the last time I weighed in on the uniforms to heart. (Glad to know they’re fans of Infield Fly.) Gone is the Angry Bird blue-jay head, the black is back to the blue and the weird grey J-swoosh is history.

Speaking of history, that’s where they’ve gone and, in my opinion, that’s where they should stay. Play on our nostalgia, people. That’s how it works in fashion, that’s how it should work in sports, too.

Each (fashion) season, designers pull ideas from the history archives and create collections of clothes that evoke a certain time that they feel with resonate with the modern customer. It may be the entrepreneurial spirit of the Wild West, it could be the opulence of the 80s, but these cultural curators know how to fill a hole we feel we’re collectively missing…with clothes.

That is what the Blue Jays are doing with these uniforms. They’re taking us back to our childhood rec rooms, shag carpet and all, and reminding us of the Jays’ glory days. It’s a smart move. It’s an obvious move. I usually am all for surprises, but for once I was glad I wasn’t shocked when they revealed these new/old uniforms. Instead, I felt comforted. In these unstable times, that is exactly what we need.

(p.s I still think they should drop the red maple leaf from the jay head, though, and relegate it to the back of the uniform. Let the jay speak for itself. Sorry, boys.)

Emma’s right, times are unstable and, while it may be a trivial matter overall, it is a bit comforting to see the Jays embracing the past that we (mostly) all remember so fondly.

Also: That maple leaf is a little whacky.

Big thanks to Emma for helping us out yet again, and please do check out her other work.

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Laundry I can cheer for

The new Toronto Blue Jays logo

I’ve done a lot of griping about the Blue Jays logo and uniforms on the site. But no more.

The Blue Jays have unveiled a new logo and new uniforms for the 2012 season. There’s a quickly thrown together gallery for those few who haven’t seen it yet.

The new design, while not perfect, is roughly a trillion times better than the angry bird it’s succeeding.

Alternate jersey

Maybe not surprising, since one of my chief criticisms of the previous uniforms is the lack of the colour blue, but my favourite of the new jerseys is the alternate, what with it being blue and all.

Stay tuned, as a friend of the blog and real-life fashion expert will provide us with a review the new uniforms.

But in the meantime, what do you think? Is the new design an improvement? Which jersey is your favourite? Let us know in the comments.

 

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Better late than never? You be the judge (or My take on Yu)

Am I late? Darn tootin’. But I got a request, and I’m not about to let my readers down like that. In any other number of ways, sure, but not like that.

The request was to share my thoughts on Yu Darvish who, for those few who don’t already know, is a Japanese pitching sensation that’s poised to make the move to MLB next year. Because of the way player transfers from Japan work, every MLB has a theoretical shot at landing Darvish, as long as it’s willing to spend the money.

My thoughts on Darvish can be boiled down to one: Toronto should make every attempt to sign the man.

But why? Make the jump and I’ll give my reasons!

Continue reading

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Employee relations

Choose your own adventure: You own a business in a competitive field. You want to, one day, be the absolute best in your field, but you know you’ve got a lot of work to do to get there. You’re striving to create a great working environment so that the top minds in your chosen industry will be attracted to your organization — not only by the potential your company shows, but also because they know they’ll be treated better working for you than if they worked for anybody else.

Now let’s say you’ve managed to hire someone from a rival. This someone is a little lacking in experience at the position you hire him for, but there’s a consensus in the industry that he’s going to be great once he gets some practice.

A year passes. The guy you’ve hired has made some questionable moves, but damn it, he’s showing the potential everybody knows he has.

Meanwhile, the rival from which you hired the employee suddenly has an opening and they want your man. They’ve got a chance to conquer the industry as early as next year and they want him to help lead them to the top.

If he wants to leave, do you stop him?

Keep in mind that if he wants to go, and you don’t let him, the atmosphere in your workplace is going to take a dive. The guy doesn’t want to be there — and everybody knows it.

What do you do?

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Is John Farrell going to leave the Blue Jays to manage the Red Sox? Only John Farrell knows.

If I’m Alex Anthopoulos, and if Farrell wants to go, I absolutely let him. Why poison the clubhouse like that? Why risk a big, big dent in the reputation of being a great place to work?

It’d definitely be tempting to prevent Boston from poaching the manager, if the Red Sox do indeed want to do that, but that’s an urge that’s got to be resisted.

Maybe offering Farrell some more money would get him to stay if he’s considering leaving. Maybe improving the team would get him to stay if he’s considering leaving. Those moves would be fine. Simply saying “you can’t go because I say so”? That’s not good enough. Not if you’re trying to build something real.

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Why Blue Jays fans should be cheering for the Cardinals

It would be very easy right now to label the St. Louis Cardinals a “team of destiny.” They snuck into the postseason on the last possible day and only because the Atlanta Braves completed a collapse that was nearly as legendary as that of the Boston Red Sox. Since then they’ve knocked off the Philadelphia HalladayLeeHamelsOswalts and the Milwaukee Prince Fielders.

Now all that stands in the Cardinals’ way is the Texas Rangers, a team which has no trouble defeating destiny. In the ALDS, they dispatched the Tampa Bay Rays rather handily. Not enough proof? Why, just last year, they won the World Series when they beat a team that made it that far despite not knowing how to score runs! (What? They didn’t beat the Giants? Oh…)

Anyway, look. The Rangers are pretty huge favourites to win the whole thing this year. I believe the odds are such that if you bet on the Rangers in Vegas, you’ve got to put down about $1.50 to win a dollar.

But you, dear Jays fan, should be cheering for the Cardinals to overcome the odds again. Not only because it’s more fun to cheer for an underdog, but because the better the Cardinals do, the better off our real favourite team is.

Tony La Russa is a Questionable Man who thinks Questionable Things

You know how so many Blue Jays fans go around calling Alex Anthopoulos a “silent assassin”? Maybe a ninja? I don’t like it, but the sentiment is justified. Anthopoulos earns the title because he does things like trade (essentially) Marc Rzepcynski, Octavio Dotel and Corey Patterson for Colby Rasmus.

(I know the deal was more complicated than that, but come on.)

Judging by the reactions of most Jays fans, Anthopoulos had reached the Billy-Beane-in-Moneyball level of trading. That is to say that other GMs should be afraid when Anthopoulos gives them a call. That reaction is and was justified. And it’s exactly why we should all be cheering for the Cardinals right now.

For all the fleecing of St. Louis that took place back in July, the Cardinals still made it to the World Series. On top of that, Tony La Russa is saying that his team getting ripped off in the deal is the REASON the Cardinals are in the World Series. Seriously. I’m not making this up.

“I’ll tell you if that trade had not been made, I believe we probably would have been an under .500 club. That’s how important it was to us.” —Tony La Russa, genius

The more the Cards win, and the more the more their people make Toronto’s front office sound stupid for trading with them, the better is for Toronto.

If you’re a competing GM and Anthopoulos gives you a call, would you rather be afraid that he’s going to rip you off or would you like to think that “hey, maybe he’ll help me win the World Series, too!”

If the Cardinals win, it will make Anthopoulos look, in the eyes of many people, a little bit dumb. We know that’s not true in the least, but it’s a damn good thing for other teams to think.

So, Go Cards. Win it for the good people of Toronto.

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Rookie of the year

Summer. Damn. It moves too fast. Seems like just yesterday I was at the SkyDome watching the Jays thump the Twins in the season opener.

But it wasn’t really yesterday. It was long enough ago that now I’m getting emails reminding me (and rightly so, since I often have trouble remembering which day of the week it is) that it’s time to vote on the 2011 Baseball Bloggers Alliance awards.

First up is the Willie Mays Award, which the BBA bestows upon the best rookies in each league.

Ballots for this award use a 5-3-1 point system and for a ballot to count, it must include three names. Since this is a Blue Jays blog, I can only vote for the American League award. So my choices, in ascending order, are as follows:

3. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

While not the sexiest of choices, Chris Sale led all American League rookies in WPA this year. For those unfamiliar with the stat, WPA stands for Win Probability Added or, basically, by what percentage did a player add to his team’s chance of winning over the course of the season. A good explanation of the stat can be found here.

Anyway, working out of the bullpen and in only 71 innings pitched, Sale piled up a WPA of 3.53. He also posted an ERA of 2.79 and a FIP (like ERA, but with fielders taken out of the equation as much as possible) of 3.12. Overall, a great year for the Pale Hose rookie.

2. Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa leftfielder made his first appearance in the Rays’ lineup this year on July 23 and proved he belonged immediately, going 2-for-3 with a double and a triple and drawing two walks in his first game. He’d go on to post a slash line (BA/OBP/SLG) of .259/.356/.805 and give Blue Jays fans further proof that the road back to the playoffs is not going to be an easy one as long as the schedule stays unbalanced.

I mean, really, Tampa may not have any money but, NEWSFLASH, the team’s got some amazing player development going on.

1. Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays

I fully expect flack for this choice and (probably justified) accusations of homerism but, to my mind, Brett Lawrie is definitely the rookie of the year.

In only 150 at-bats, Lawrie hit nine home runs. He posted a slash line of .293/.373/.580. He showed patience and poise at the plate and an eye that at times seemed to rival that of Jose Bautista.

Now, it would be reasonable to say that, with such a small sample size, there’s a good chance that opposing pitchers would adapt and figure out ways to get him out. Totally possible, but his incredible eye would help to offset that a bit as he seems unlikely to chase after bad pitches and get himself out. There are two more reasons he’s got my vote though:

  • Before his call-up, there were a lot of questions about his defence, but not only did he not look out of place playing third on the SkyDome’s artificial turf, he was downright impressive.
  • While his offensive output may have slowed had he played more, how incredibly productive he was during his stint has to be taken into consideration. Despite only 171 plate appearances, Lawrie’s WAR (wins above replacement) came in at 2.7 — tied for first among non-pitching rookies and that is just insane.

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So there you have it, my Wille Mays Award ballot for the rookie of the year. There are many other great rookies this year who could have (and maybe should have) cracked my Top 3, with Eric Hosmer, Michael Pineda, Alexei Ogando and Dustin Ackley chief among them. So who’s your rookie of the year? Let me have it in the comments.

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Backup of the future

Watching last night’s Jays game, I was a little surprised to see both Jose Molina and J.P. Arencibia in the starting lineup. “What happens if Molina goes down?” I thought to myself. “Is John Farrell really OK with giving up the DH spot that easily?”

“Wait… isn’t Brian Jeroloman on the bench? He can’t be, can he? I mean, he’d have to have played by now, and I’m sure I’d have heard about that.”

The head cold I’ve been dealing with was enough to keep me on the couch and keep me from looking it up, but waiting over night saved me from doing any research. John Lott answered my questions for me.

Yes, Brian Jeroloman was on the bench. He has been since Aug. 23. And no, he hasn’t seen any game action yet.

Normally, when a young player gets a call to the majors and spends a lot of time on the bench, there’s a call for him to get some playing time to “see what we’ve got in him.” Jeroloman is different though.

Alex Anthopoulos said at the time of his call-up that Jeroloman wouldn’t play. Farrell has said that Molina and Arencibia have earned the little playing time that remains. The coach and GM have stuck to their word — so much so that it’s sometimes hard to remember that Jeroloman is in fact in the major leagues right now.

So, if he’s not playing, why are the Jays paying Jeroloman a major-league salary to sit on the bench? The guy is almost definitely not Toronto’s catcher of the future, after all.

But that may be the exact reason he’s with the big club right now.

With Arencibia holding his own to the point that there’s some minor rookie-of-the-year movement behind him and with the steam train that is Travis D’arnaud making his way through Toronto’s farm system, it would seem that the best possible outcome for Jeroloman — in a Jays uniform, anyway — is the role of backup catcher.

What better way to prepare for that role than riding the pine? Well, playing would obviously be better. But if the options are going home or travelling with and learning the art of calling a game from Molina, a guy who’s pretty good at catching, then travelling, learning and enjoy the post-game spread is probably the way to go.

And with Molina’s expiring contract and Type-B status, there’s a chance Jeroloman may even be the backup catcher as soon as next season.

So, as the Jays get ready for their final game of the season this afternoon, it’d be nice if Jeroloman got a little playing time to, you know, see what we’ve got in him.

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Jose Bautisa: Jaw dropper

There are a lot of fun things about watching the Blue Jays, but my favourite by far is watching pitchers pitch to Jose Bautista. Dingers are fun, chicks love the long ball and all that, but Bautista does it like no other.

Seriously, when Bautista connects, it’s almost always a jaw dropper. Boston Red Sox fans who didn’t already know this learned it the hard way Tuesday night when Bautista smashed a ball so hard it ended up hitting the top of the foul pole above the Green Monster. Check it out.

The dinger’s impressive, but the reaction of the people behind the plate are almost as entertaining:

The girl in the middle is in complete awe.

The guy on the right, I like him. He’s probably a die-hard Sox fan, but he can’t hide his excitement at watching such a moonshot.

Dude on the left? Well, I had to highlight a pissed off Sox fan.

Jose Bautista: Dropping jaws and aggravating Massholes. Gotta love it.

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