First, a couple bits of housekeeping — because why not just keep putting off writing an actual post for even longer, eh? 1) If you haven’t already noticed, you’re now on BlueJaysNation.com, minus the “the.” Feel free to change your bookmarks accordingly (though both will still get you here — as will AndrewStoeten.com) and please be sure to exclude the new domain from your ad blocker! And 2) I know the comments section has been, to say the least, an issue for those who like to use it. I hope we have a solution that you’ll see in tomorrow’s Game Threat (which, unlike today’s, will exist!), however, in the meantime, a lot of commenters seem to have found their way to Jays In The House — so, if you’re so inclined, check that out too!
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: according to a tweet from Jon Heyman, the Jays have a superstar whose contract is ending after this season, but actually he wants to stay in Toronto and is willing to negotiate — unlike previous reports that he’s given the team his unbending demands. Yes, apparently Jose Bautista wants to stay — or at least somebody wants us to think he does (i.e. somebody has read the David Price handbook on how to leave Toronto for a boatload of money while making it look entirely like the team’s fault). This probably deserves a full post, but meh.
Maybe this deserves a full post, too, but in the name of just getting through everything that’s been going on while I’ve been having a less-than-productive week, let’s check out Turf and Rec magazine! The trade mag has a pretty interesting and in-depth piece on a speech about the Rogers Centre from November by Dr. Eric Lyons, the University of Guelph professor who has been studying how to make a natural grass field grow in the stadium. All sorts of interesting stuff in there, from the talk of MLB’s “wishes” (read: pressure?) being to have every team on a real field, to that fact that there is some drainage in the current surface (just not in seating areas), to talk of humidity challenges, lighting challenges, something called “dormancy response.” The piece also gives us this quote from Lyons, which is really what it’s all going to come down to: “We can do it if you throw enough money at it. The question is, will the building still be there 20 years from now?”
Conner Sheen… er… Greene pitched a scoreless inning in Wednesday’s game, and the model/actor/top Jays pitching prospect spoke to Barry Davis of Sportsnet afterwards. Meanwhile, Robert MacLeod of the Globe and Mail writes about Greene and his relationship with Sheen — yes, as in Charlie Sheen. Which… uh… that’s weird. “He’s been nothing but a great person to me and a great friend,” Greene said of him. “I don’t care about what’s been written about him or reported. I just know what he’s done for me and how sweet he’s been to me and that’s all I care about. He’s just an amazing person.” Which… uh…
Speaking of Davis, here he talks about Ryan Goins’ D, which… uh….
More Greene stuff here from Scott MacArthur of TSN.ca, Paul Hagen of MLB.com (who says Greene could follow Miguel Castro’s and Roberto Osuna’s quick path to the big leagues) and Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star, whose piece is too deliciously titled to not pass along: Blue Jays prospect Conner Greene carries sheen of stardom.
MLBTR rounds up some key comments from Ross Atkins, who appeared on Buster Olney’s podcast this week, praising both Jose Bautista (who his interactions with have been, he says, very amicable), and Michael Saunders, who he says (regarding the near-miss Jay Bruce trade), “was as humble, as professional and as committed as possible to make sure that this will be the best trade that never happened.”
John Trolololosi of Fox Sports says that the Jays are his number two choice to dethrone the Royals in the American League. Number one? Hahaha. It’s Cleveland.
At Bluebird Banter, Minor Leaguer wondered this week if changes are coming to the policy that has allowed Canadian viewers to watch the Jays via MLB.tv over the last several years (instead of being subject to a blackout), but it eventually turned out that… uh… probably not? Let’s hope not!
Look, I roll my eyes plenty about the sorts of paeans to “clubhouse chemistry” we’re treated to on a yearly basis — which doesn’t mean that I don’t think it’s some kind of a force that probably exerts itself on a team’s end result in some kind of unquantifiable way, I’d just rather we be realistic when we talk about it (whatever “it” is). For example: let’s maybe not be quick to chalk up last year’s Blue Jays success to magic when they added one of the two or three best catchers in baseball, the AL MVP, and the runner-up for AL Cy Young, y’know? But if players feel it and believe in it and it creates an environment they want to be in, sure, that’s cool. And that’s what the Jays feel they have this year — or so says Josh Donaldson, according Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun.
Elsewhere at the Sun, Ken Fidlin writes about Aaron Sanchez’s curveball (which was working well on Monday!) and RA Dickey’s knucklball (which is almost up to speed), plus praise from John Gibbons for Marcus Stroman and Dalton Pompey on knowing better now what it will take to get to the big leagues and stay there.
More from Fidlin, the hardest working man in show business, as for the National Post he tells us about the lessons learned from Mark Buehrle (who is of course not with the team this season — though not yet officially retired… or something), and Dickey’s attempt to find the right spring routine.
Elsewhere at the Post, Scott Stinson says that on a stacked team like the Jays, some hopefuls just don’t have a chance. He also looks at the (weak) case to make Kevin Pillar the club’s leadoff hitter.
At Sportsnet, Mike Wilner suggests that — at least on Wednesday against Tampa — Pillar looked the part, which… uh… OK, maybe he did. For a day. The belief some people have that he’s just magically going to start being a significantly better offensive player, though, continues to confound.
Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith writes about the race to be the Jays’ fifth starter, with a focus on Gavin Floyd, who certainly has a chance. Benny Fresh also tells us that Marco Estrada could make his spring debut next week (laugh line from this afternoon’s radio broadcast was Wilner asking John Gibbons about Estrada walking stiffly, to which Gibbers replied, “I think that’s just his walk), and explains why Jose Bautista takes batting practice left-handed: “it helps him balance his core muscles and may even prevent injuries.”
Speaking of Marco Estrada, Robert MacLeod of the Globe and Mail tells us how it was a Bruce Lee workout that caused the right-hander to need a backiotomy.
Elsewhere in the Globe, MacLeod talks with Drew Storen, who is excited for a fresh start in Toronto after a 2015 season that went a bit off the rails with Washington.
Bill Chastain of MLB.com recaps today’s game, noting that JA Happ pitched fairly well — at least according to JA Happ (and John Gibbons) — while Paul Hagen talks about the defensive prowess of shortstop prospect Richard Urena.
For BlueJays.com, Gregor Chisholm tells us that Edwin Encarnacion is set to make his spring debut next week — or at least a few days after the debut of Jose Bautista, which is set for tomorrow (i.e. Thursday), according to John Gibbons. He also takes a great look at the way that certain players’ minor league option status will factor into the Jays’ Opening Day roster decisions.
Several from the Toronto Star: Richard Griffin looks at the role of Eric Wedge (which isn’t manager-in-waiting, apparently), and how Gavin Floyd’s presence is making the Jays’ rotation question a numbers game — especially because, according to Floyd, Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro assured him a roster spot when they signed him, provided he’s healthy. Griff also writes about Marcus Stroman’s quest to go from being a mere number 1 starter to an ace — and how he still has work to do before he can call himself that.
Lastly, several Jays-related items from FanGraphs: Craig Edwards looks at Opening Day payrolls across the majors, which sees the Jays ranked 13th (and even lower if you look at the amount payrolls changed from 2013 to 2015 — though theirs did go up considerably from 2011 to 2013). Though not mentioning the Jays, Edwards also takes an interesting look at the importance of the local market with respect to the Atlanta Braves — a club with corporate ownership somewhat similar to the Jays’. Jeff Sullivan looks at how badly the site’s readers disagreed with their win projection for the Royals — but its certainly notable that the next biggest disagreement was over the Jays (who go from 84 wins per Steamer/ZiPS to 87 per the fans). “I think we may have already seen the best of Pillar with the bat,” writes Tony Blengino as he looks at the Ball In Play profiles of the centrefielders in each league. And lastly, Neil Wennberg looks at just how weird the 2015 Jays were when it comes to intentional walks — they occupy a place all by themselves on a graph of wRC+ (which was high!) and intentional walks (which were way low!).