The Daily Duce: Monday, March 21st

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Daily??!?

Ross Atkins speaks! Or so he did over the weekend on MLB Network Radio, and Ewan Ross of BP Toronto was there to provide us with some nuggets from the conversation, including Atkins confirming that the rolling clause in John Gibbons’ contract (which was to prevent him from ever being a lame duck manager) has already been removed by the new regime. So that’s… something. As it was with the Eric Wedge “concerns,” though, Gibbons will be bulletproof if the team does well, and will be on the hot seat if they don’t — kinda like every other manager in the game. Meh.

Bob Nightengale tweets that “John Gibbons’ contract actually went through 2017 anyway, but now the rollover clause is gone.” So it won’t guarantee him for 2018 if he’s still employed on January 1st, 2017, then? OK, sure.

Edwin Encarnacion’s contract concerns, which the slugger made very public this weekend, have elicited a response from club president Mark Shapiro, which we get via BlueJays.com. But just because he’s responding doesn’t mean he’s taking the bait. “They have the right to be able to handle things any way they want,” he says of Encarnacion and Jose Bautista (who has also been rather public about his impending free agency). “I just have had enough experience to recognize that the back and forth in that forum doesn’t accomplish anything.” Fair.

Elsewhere at BlueJays.com, Gregor Chisholm tells us that Kevin Pillar has been unofficially named the club’s lead-off hitter, which… isn’t ideal. Not that anyone on the roster is particularly ideal for the slot. And not that it doesn’t mean anything that he at least actually wants to do it. And not that it’s even a real problem until he pulls a Pillar-esque 0-for-May. It’s just… it isn’t ideal.

Back to the contract stuff, as Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun talks to Jose Bautista, who says that he’s not worried about it — and neither is Edwin. Meanwhile, his colleague, Steve Simmons, is… pretty reasonable about the Edwin situation.

Over at Sportsnet, Jeff Blair looks at how the Jays are trying to recapture the Marco Estrada-Dioner Navarro dynamic that worked so well last season. Blair also looks at Edwin Encarnacion, who the Jays are still hoping will be ready for the start of the season, while Mike Wilner looks at Gavin Floyd’s rotation case (and other things from Sunday’s game).

Mark Zwolinzki of the Toronto Star also has stuff on both Floyd and Estrada.

FanGraphs has some nifty charts showing the dollars committed to each position on the diamond by team, and holy shit does it ever hammer home what ridiculous bargains Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are. DH is the highest paid position in baseball, on average, and Edwin Encarnacion has accumulated the most WAR at DH over the last four seasons by 4.9 wins over second-place David Ortiz (16.3 WAR to 11.4), while being paid just $10-million. He’s the eighth-highest paid DH in the game. Jose Bautista is the 9th highest paid right fielder, despite being firmly in an elite top four (with Jason Heyward, Bryce Harper, and Giancarlo Stanton) in terms of WAR over the last four seasons. Fifth place RF Hunter Pence, for example, is 4.6 WAR behind that lowest total of the top group over that span.

At Baseball Prospectus, today’s Monday Morning Ten pack looks at potential breakout prospects for 2016, and included among them is Conner Greene, who may only need 10-15 starts at Double-A, they say, before a move to Buffalo could be in the cards. It’s not far to Toronto from there. (Jeff Hoffman makes this list, too).

Elsewhere at BP, JP Breen looks at AL East playing time battles from a fantasy perspective, which means we get a nifty overview of the Jays’ fifth starter and closer situations.

Speaking still of BP, back at BP Toronto, Kyle Matte looks at how the Jays can emulate the Rays pitching success, and Gideon Turk checks in with prospect Clinton Hollon, the young right-hander who is ready to finally have a healthy and productive year after dealing with injuries so far in his brief career (something the Jays were aware of when they drafted him).

Jim Scott of Jays Journal wonders if the Jays and A’s could match up on a Sonny Gray trade, which probably isn’t even as crazy as I want to believe it is — especially if the A’s end up bad again. It would certainly cost the Jays some high-end young talent, though.

Back to Gregor at BlueJays.com, as he looks at how Aaron Sanchez’s secondary stuff is the key to his rotation case, while also telling us about how Sunday’s Jays-Pirates game ended on MLB’s new slide rule.

Back to the Sun, where Steve Buffery tells us about Steve Delabar, who hopes to crack the Jays’ roster, even though it’s now looking like a bit of a long shot. Buffery also talks to Jesse Chavez about his love of classic cars, while Bob Elliott talks to Russell Martin, who says this year’s rotation is deeper and better than the one he worked with last year. Meanwhile, an AP report tells us about Rays closer Brad Boxberger, who is out at least eight weeks due to injury.

The Globe And Mail has some excerpts from Buck Martinez’s new book, and… did you know that you can’t Google emotion?

Kevin Pappetti of Bluebird Banter writes 250 word previews for each team in the AL East and… whoa! Not much love for anyone but the Jays and Red Sox. I think the dumb Yankees and Orioles and Rays are going to be a whole lot better than we want to believe, tbh.

SB Nation’s Over The Monster passes along quotes from Red Sox manager John Farrell, who sounds like he’s seriously considering replacing Pablo Sandoval at third base with Travis Shaw, and doing so as soon as Opening Day. LOL. Except, y’know, for how Shaw is probably the better option anyway. And Elsewhere at Over The Monster, Joon Lee compares the Red Sox and the Jays (Boston’s “biggest obstacle” for the division title, we’re told), but what really stands out is this garbage about Marcus Stroman: “he looks like a clown out there on the mound with a single-digit number on his back.” Oh piss off, you fuck. That’s really the best you’ve got?

By the way: the Jays won 93 games last year and underperformed their Pythagorean record by nine games! They’ll be fine.

Lastly, more Red Sox nonsense, as Petey Abraham of the Boston Globe decides that an angry Chris Sale — who had harsh words for White Sox GM Ken Williams following the Adam LaRoche flap — could be a real opportunity for the Red Sox. Because — hadn’t you heard? — they’re entitled to every good player. Puke.

  • Steve-O

    ““[Stroman] looks like a clown out there on the mound with a single-digit number on his back.” Oh piss off, you fk. That’s really the best you’ve got?”

    Seconded.

  • Warren_

    I really like how Shapiro is handling the drama of Edwin’s contract negotiations being out in public: Smile, be polite, and SAY NOTHING.

    It must be pretty f’ing annoying dealing with media buzzards buzzing around 24/7 asking the same question over and over in a hundred different ways.

    • OakvilleJays

      I think the EE & JB contract negotiations saga will be a story throughout the entire season.

      It’s in Shapiro & Atkins best interests to say as little as possible. Atkins should stop saying he is having dialogue with EE.

  • Sandman

    Sorry guys, don’t get all the love for the Red Sox by most media types.

    Sox have one elite starter and a bunch of questions after him.

    They have questions at both IN corners and unproven youngsters in CF and LF.

    Kimbrall is great but Kojii is 41 and Smith is experiencing arm issues. Bullpen may not be as good as its hyped to be.

    They’ll be a contender if things break their way..but they could just as easily be a distant 5th.

    • OakvilleJays

      Red Sox nation is powerful & won’t accept another disappointing season.

      They played better in the second half & have David Price.

      It will be a battle between the Jays & Red Sox for the AL East. The Jays will win it by about 5 games-10 games.

    • 0noggin

      Agree. I think Koji and Kimbrall will still be good, but the Red Sox have some issues with defense and consistency, their depth is virtually nonexistent and their rotation is one injury away from being a disaster. I almost guarantee they’ll tank before July. Barring a miracle, the Orioles will be middle of the pack. The Rays and Yankees are quietly good, though, and the Jays will need to compete hard.

  • AJ, Breakfast Army Fan

    “Gibbons will be bulletproof if the team does well, and will be on the hot seat if they don’t — kinda like every other manager in the game.”

    I know you’ve been on the record as saying this, and normally I agree, but how can removing the rolling option NOT be seen as them being more inclined to remove him once they find something resembling a good excuse?

    • OakvilleJays

      I do think it’s a bad sign for Gibby. I have become a big Gibby fan since he came to Toronto for a second time. I hope Rogers puts him in the broadcast booth or as a panelist if he retires. I would like to see Gibby & Zaun battle with Jamie Campbell as referee. On a more serious note, I am puzzled why Stoeten has been less supportive of Gibby this offseason.

        • OakvilleJays

          I think Gibby deserves more than a “meh” if the Jays don’t perform well. Gibby should be judged on whether he has helped/hurt the team .

          He has a good reputation with bullpen management & batting lineups. He hasn’t beat up any players in his second run as a Jays manager.

          Gibby has been a much better field manager than Farrell. Why would you dismiss him so easily with a “Meh” & allow Shapiro to replace him with Eric Wedge or one of his other associates. If he brings Terry Francona to the Jays that’s OK but Eric Wedge is a more likely replacement.

          I didn’t follow the Jays closely the first time he managed the team. I knew that he had battles with Lilly & others so I was weary of him returning.

          I learned to appreciate him over the past 3 seasons. I want Gibby to stay.

    • You think his 2018 status changed an iota because of this? If they don’t want him, they can fire him, if they want to keep him, they can work it out. Maybe because it’s a new regime he’ll prefer to be able to test free agency. That’s advantageous to him, no?

      Mostly what this move says is, “Hey, that contract rollover thing was kinda dumb.”

      Searching for ways to demonize the new FO over every little thing? Are we not beyond that yet?

      • AJ, Breakfast Army Fan

        They can fire him regardless, no? And if he wants out they can let him go. Of all the things they could be doing, I just don’t see why else they’d address this. All it achieves is making Gibby a lame duck manager in 2017, if he makes it that far. The rollover was great in serving the purpose of avoiding that.

        I know it’s tempting to crop me in with the “searching for ways to demonize the new FO over every little thing” people, but I’ve been rather supportive of giving them a chance. They deserve a chance, but just because they’re new doesn’t mean they can’t be criticized. I’m not trying to conjure up a conspiracy theory, I’m just trying to think what their motivation could be.

        • AJ, Breakfast Army Fan

          I just saw that this might’ve been a thing Gibby initiated. If so, that obviously changes things. What I raised before was just a question based on a different assumption.

        • OakvilleJays

          The new front office is doing an excellent job of being worthy of demonization.

          They look silly going out of their way to compliment Gibby yet renegotiate his contract terms to make him a lame duck after 2016.

          They talk about dialogue with EE yet EE is complaining directly to Bob Elliott.

          They should keep quiet until the season is over.

          The “inspirational posters” in the clubhouse are meaningless.

          Their strategies may have worked to keep the Indians from being last place every year but I doubt they will be as successful in Toronto. The AL East is a much more competitive division than the AL Central.

  • Zaheer

    The garbage birds will be legitimate trash I think. Standings-wise that is.

    Rays will be their usual pains in the asses if their pitchers actually manage to stay healthy this year.

  • DAKINS

    “he looks like a clown out there on the mound with a single-digit number on his back.”

    Just don’t tell Goose, we don’t need more crying about the Jays “youngins” doing the wrong thing.

    Edit:

    “(although that’s partially forgiven when considering he’s honoring his grandma)”

    Partially? Partially forgiven? What a piece of s— comment that is.