Before we get started, an announcement for those of you who have been searching for the RSS feed for the new site, which is… here’s the RSS feed for the new site. Happy RSS-ing!
Mark Shapiro addressed members of the media today, and though he (naturally) didn’t offer much on the Jose Bautista situation, he sure did throw down a bit of a gauntlet with respect to the club’s relationship with Dunedin. “There are realities that may be charming about our situation but charm is not going to bring wins,” he said (not wrongly) according to a tweet from Ken Fidlin. “We need a 365-day home for rehab and training that is state of the art that is a potential competitive advantage,” he adds. Not quite talking about the same thing, but feels kiiiiind of like a departure from how high he seemed on, at the very least, the location last month.
Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes about the Jays willingness to go elsewhere, and tells us that Mark Shapiro admitted to having had “very preliminary” talks with the Braves about potentially sharing a new site — a possibility I ruminated on last week.
In a clip at Sportsnet, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! discusses with Jeff Blair the fact that the Blue Jays made Jon Lester, who eventually signed with the Cubs, a five-year, $125-million offer last winter — which at the time was the highest offer he had on the table (at least in terms of average annual value). This, it seems, would have been in lieu of signing Russell Martin, had it happened. And because they didn’t break “the policy” of offering more than five years (and didn’t guarantee him more than $155-million he eventually got from Chicago, for six years) they obviously didn’t get him. Nice try, though, I guess.
In another Sportsnet video, Josh Donaldson — who arrived in Dunedin today — takes a friendly shot at Mark Shapiro over the quality of Princeton football, which is Shapiro’s alma mater and where he played on the offensive line (!) in the late 80s. (Here’s a September interview with the Princetonian that touches on Shapiro’s football days.)
“It was impossible to watch young Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Alford take his cuts Tuesday morning and not come away dreaming on possibilities,” writes Ted Berg — the master of the turn from camera one to camera two! — of USA Today after a visit to Dunedin. “With athleticism obvious from his stature alone and an audible whoosh every time his bat whipped through the zone, Alford smashed a series of drives that pelted or cleared the left-field fence on a practice field at Toronto’s facility, and made it easy to see why Baseball America recently ranked him the No. 25 prospect in all of baseball and the best in the Blue Jays’ system.” Yowza.
Ted also has an amazing piece on Jose Bautista and how little he’d like to talk to the media about Game Five of the ALDS, preferring instead his own direct line with the fans. He has more followers than Ted and the rest of the media down in Dunedin combined, he’ll have you know.
Speaking of Alford, MLB.com has named him the top Jays prospect in their just-released top 30 list. Meanwhile, Ken Fidlin writes about Alford for the National Post, as does Cathal Kelly of the Globe and Mail.
Sticking with Kelly, he goes a slightly more subtle route than usual in taking his latest pointless and off-base shot at Mark Shapiro et al, suggesting that the leaked Jay Bruce rumours illuminate a troubling inability of the new front office to control the flow of information. Because, y’know, forget that it would likely have been a trade like any other had it not hit a medical snag, or that moves like the Storen-Revere trade or the J.A. Happ signing came out of nowhere, that the front office is still largely unchanged since Alex Anthopoulos left, or that lots of people heard lots of thing about the previous FO’s moves before they happened and that the “if you heard it it must be false” myth of the Anthopoulos era long ago needed to be put to death.
Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun writes about Jose Bautista having made Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro’s decision on his future in Toronto easy by demanding more money than the Jays will possibly consider. You’ll roll your eyes at all the not-at-all-subtle histrionics about Jose’s ego, but it’s hard to say that his main thrust is otherwise wrong.
Elsewhere at the Sun, Ken Fidlin talks to John Gibbons about Marco Estrada, who the manager says will be eased into spring, as he arrived at camp with a bit of a stiff back (which the team says it’s otherwise unconcerned about), and he also talks with Chris Colabello about the upcoming season (with some nice stuff with Anthony Alford, too).
For the National Post, Fidlin talks to Drew Storen, who says he’s unconcerned about his role and willing to close or pitch earlier in games, and he also talks to Michael Saunders, who says 2016 is going to be a “redemption year” for him.
Elsewhere in the Post, Erika Gilbert looks at projections from BP and FanGraphs and tries to answer the question of whether the Jays will make the playoffs. Meanwhile, Scott Stinson writes that the Jays need to re-sign Jose Bautista or start the rebuild, which… uh… Scott’s great, but I’m preeeetty sure a lineup with Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, and, say, Edwin Encarnacion is still going to be plenty competitive going forward.
At Sportsnet, Arden Zwelling writes about Jesse Chavez, who is happy to be back with the Blue Jays, while Shi Davidi looks at Troy Tulowitzki, who is finally feeling comfortable with his situation, and happy to have a full spring training to get to better know his teammates.
Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets to note that Domonic Brown is a Scott Boras client. Maybe it doesn’t mean a whole lot, seeing as it was just a minor league deal (and I’m not sure, off the top of my head, if the Jays under Alex Anthopoulos hadn’t maybe signed a small deal with Boras as well), but that’s perhaps a thing.
Arden Zwelling tweets that Troy Tulowitzki joined Ryan Goins, Darwin Barney, Chris Colabello, Kevin Pillar, and others in a long BP session yesterday, and gives us a great Tulo quote about beingg dedicated, how his teammates are gym rats, and how he thinks “these guys really own what they do instead of just hoping and saying, ‘oh, I hope I go out there and get a hit today.’ Guys here understand what makes them successful, and also understand at times when they struggle that it’s going to happen and that we can help each other get out of it.”
Arden also tweets a quote from Kevin Pillar, who marvels at Tulo’s work ethic and how it’s “refreshing to see a guy who’s been one of the best shortstops in baseball over the last ten years constantlyy working at being better and taking the time with younger guys to share some information and share thoughts. That’s a big thing that a lot of us bond over,” Pillar adds, “the competitive aspect, the mechanics, the hitting.”
Speaking of Pillar, great stuff from Melissa Couto of the Canadian Press, via Sportsnet, as she talks to the Jays’ centrefielder about a new workout regime that’s designed to keep him feeling better. “My focus is really to try to move like an infant child,” he says. Which… wait, what?
Stephen Wyno of the Associated Press, via the Globe and Mail, talks to Drew Storen about the trade, the troublesome end to his career in Washington (who traded for Jonathan Papelbon last summer, causing Storen a demotion he didn’t handle well), and how he thinks he’s stronger for it. OK, but does he know what “Netflix and chill” means yet?
Dexter Fowler has spurned the Orioles (over their policy of not giving opt-outs, or at least their refusal to give him one, since they would have had to give up a high draft pick to get him), and signed with the Cubs. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN wonders, via Twitter, if this means the O’s will go after Jay Bruce. Meh.He’d probably be really good with Baltimore. Unless he was terrible.
Greg Auman of Newsday has a nifty feature from Dunedin on everyone’s favourite Long Island native, Marcus Stroman.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tells us that Red Sox owner John Henry has looked at the results his club has produced over the last few years and figures that they need to deemphasize their reliance on analytics. LOOOOOL!
Jose Bautista should go public with his number, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.
Jon Heyman tweets that a scout tells him Jeff Hoffman reminds him of Noah Syndergaard. Trolololo…
Spring training is a special time for Tim Raines — the former Expos star who remains a Blue Jays instructor — writes Mike Nabors of MLB.com.
At Bluebird Banter, MjwW has a terrible opinion about the Jays front office you might want to consider reading. Or not.
Sneaker info site Nice Kicks tweets that Marcus Stroman, looking more Big Earl-ish than I think I’ve seen, has signed on to be the latest on Nike’s Jordan brand roster of athletes. Cool.
Mop Up Duty provides a big guide for those of you considering a trip down to Dunedin for some sunshine and spring training
Now that he’s gone, part of me really doesn’t want to even touch the Jose Reyes case. The other part of me, however, knows that it’s important to not pretend that this stuff isn’t happening, doesn’t happen, and didn’t happen. Stacey May Fowles wrote a great piece for the Walrus back in November about sports’ relationship with domestic violence. And this week, Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs looked specifically at the legal implications of Reyes’s indefinite suspension from MLB, which was handed down this week.
Lastly, a powerful video on Facebook from my good friend Pat Smith, in light of recent sexual abuse allegations of a former coach of the Ontario Blue Jays. “I felt compelled to create this video and discuss the topic, the culture, my experiences as well as offer support to those who may be victims of the abuse,” he explains. “If anyone needs to talk, I’m here for you. The whole community is. It’s my belief that an honest discourse here could be very healthy for all involved and the baseball community as a whole.”