I know it’s not quite Spring yet, but shitty boring January and its dumbass winter-partner-in-crime February are now officially over for another year folks. And we’re only a couple weeks away from St. Patrick’s Day and drinking shitty green beer (if that’s your thing) in a bar that blasts a best of The Pogues playlist.
And fingers effing crossed here that the whole minus 20 and 30 thing is now past us as the days get longer and March 29th approaches. But, goddamn it, isn’t it a beautiful thing that the good Birds of Summer are in Dunedin playing some Grapefruit games, so that you can pretend to work while you really listen to the sweet sounds of Blue Jays baseball?
And, sure, they are ‘fake’ games and who really gives a shit about the outcome, but it’s a great opportunity to have a look at a lot of talented prospects who have worked their way through the farm system to get the invite to camp.
It’s a pretty awesome feeling knowing that spring is around the Dunedin corner because soon we can put away our ‘Bob and Doug McKenzie’ toques and parkas – eh! And put on our damn Jays caps.
So, I might be getting a little over-excited, since we’re probably still at least a snow storm away from spring, but it’s fun to think about the start of the baseball season and the glorious summer that follows, which will be here faster than it takes Buck Martinez to pronounce Jason Leblebijian and Yangervis Solarte. And the truth is, what would summer be without a good ol’ fashion road trip?
One of the best road trips I ever took was to Rome, New York, for shitty Woodstock ’99. Me and my friends drove down completely unprepared, made a tent with sheets and hockey sticks, and tried to make what little cash we had last while paying close to 8 dollars American for a bottle of water – a total bullshit venue it was, but a great memory nonetheless.
I digress. One fun baseball road trip that Ontarians should think about making this summer would be down to Lansing, Michigan. It’s an easy cruise down some I-69 West asphalt and it will lead you to the home of the Lugnuts, where Jesse Goldberg-Strassler will be calling the games at Cooley Law School Stadium.
I decided to catch up with Jesse and ask him what Blue Jays prospects he thinks we could see in Lansing this year. And I also made sure to ask him what the best greasy spoon diners are in the city because bacon is great. Eggs are good, too. Actually, breakfast is just awesome, and if you go down there, it’s just good to know where to find the best breakfast spots.
What are the chances that we see big Nate in Lansing this year?
30%. I have the suspicion that Nate will follow T.J. Zeuch’s 2017 path and open the year in Dunedin. Honestly, wouldn’t it be better for the Blue Jays if he was already A-Advanced ready? I would be psyched if the Jays send him to Lansing, though. At this point, if the Lugnuts’ Opening Day roster features either Pearson and/or The War Moth, I’ll be thrilled.
What prospect(s) are you looking forward to seeing put on a Lugnuts uniform in ‘18?
Take Big Nate and The War Moth out of the equation, since there’s a good case to be made that neither one comes to Lansing. (If either one comes, he’s the clear answer.) Riley Adams, last year’s third-rounder. Let’s see how his hit tool and power tool play in the Midwest League. Best-case scenario: He hits .300/.350/.450 and is promoted to Dunedin at the All-Star Break.
For Jays fans who might not know too much about Riley Adams, what about him excites you?
He’s a black belt in karate. Do you know any other baseball players who are black belts in karate?
(Ed. Maybe, George Bell?)
What Vancouver C’s prospect do you think could be an impact player for the Lugnuts?
If I have to pick only one guy, I’m going with Kacy Clemens. If I have to pick only one mustache, I’m going with Brock Lundquist.
Who sported the best stache in Jays history?
Best stache in Jays history? Dave Stieb. Cito Gaston is 2nd.
(Ed. I’m a big supporter of the Rance stache. Anyway, continue …)
Honestly, I’m excited about a bunch of C’s – they won the MWL championship last year for a reason. I’m excited about Clemens, Lundquist, speedsters Reggie Pruitt and Chavez Young, 2017 draftee Cullen Large, and Samad Taylor (the other player picked up in the Joe Smith/Thomas Pannone deal). Pitchers: I hope the C’s great 1-2 bullpen combo of William Ouellette and Orlando Pascual translates to the MWL, and I can’t wait to see the 2017 pitching draft picks: Zach Logue, Justin Dillon, Donnie Sellers, Matt Shannon and Brody Rodning. Add in Ryan Noda, Ty Tice, Jordan Barrett and Colton Laws from Bluefield, and there’s an intriguing collection of break-out prospect candidates (a la Bradley Jones and Edward Olivares) who we’ll know about a year or two before anyone else. The lower levels of the Jays’ system look pretty fertile to me.
When do you think Blue Jays fans will see Eric Pardinho in the MiLB?
Let’s get aggressive and put him on the Vlad Jr. schedule. I propose that he pitches in GCL/Bluefield this year and then skips Vancouver up to Lansing next year. That’s if everything goes as planned: He dominates and he stays healthy.
What greasy spoon diner should Canadians go to when they make the trip down to Lansing this summer?
Dagwoods, Blondie’s Barn, Good Truckin’ Diner, and the gold standard for all Lansing breakfast spots, Golden Harvest.
And, finally, I’ve got to ask: when can we expect to see Jesse Goldberg-Strassler calling games at the Dome?
Hey, if you know, I wouldn’t mind knowing. Whenever the call comes, I’ll be ready.
(Ed. The call should come sooner than later with the great Jerry Howarth retiring – just sayin’)
I want to thank Jesse for his time and for giving us a better sense of what future Blue Jays we will see in Lansing this year, as it looks like quite a few awesome Vancouver C’s players will be heading to Cooley Law Stadium.
So if you are planning a good ol’ fashion road trip to Lansing to take in some baseball on a hot lazy summer afternoon, here’s the link to the 2018 Lansing Lugnuts schedule.