I’m not going to lie to you here, it pains me greatly that, for whatever reason, during this season of Blue Jays baseball we’ve seen no Richard Griffin mail bags, no Benny Fresh chats, and hardly any Gregor Chisholm inboxes. How am I supposed to speak to the dullard masses if not by swiping the questions in those things and answering them myself??? I can’t solicit questions on my own because that would spoil the magic of me raining shit down on unsuspecting dimwits!
In the second half I’ll just have to do a few more Anatomy of a JaysTalk posts, perhaps. In the meantime, though, here’s something! The main baseball writers over at Sportsnet — Jeff Blair, Shi Davidi, Ben Nicholson-Smith, Mike Wilner, and Arden Zwelling — took part in a digital roundtable discussion that was posted today, in which they answered a bunch of questions about the Jays and what to expect going forward.
It’s maybe not as fun as clowning weirdos, but it does allow me to pull a good, old fashioned, Carlos the Jackal-esque hijacking. So let’s do it to it!
As always, I haven’t read any of Griff’s answers (or anybody else’s)…
Which MLB team seems poised for a big second half?
Your fuckin’ Toronto Blue Jays! Obviously. I mean, I know that’s the total fucking painful homer answer (apologies to Wilner if he said the same thing, which… he did, didn’t he?), but for real. This team is eleven games over .500 and they’ve really only just begun to play their best baseball. That doesn’t mean shit couldn’t get fucked up — I don’t agree with ol’ Jon Trolololosi’s assessment of the threat, but he’s not wrong that a hurt Marco Estrada and a relieving/ineffective Aaron Sanchez would truly hurt this team — but come on. It’s the Jays! Let’s do this!
What player or team were you wrong about in the first half?
I’m sure nobody cares about my thoughts on the NL Central, so I’ll just say Baltimore, in terms of a team. Those fuckers. And I’ll go ahead and answer about players, too — specifically, Blue Jays players, of which I think there are three that jump immediately to mind.
First is Marcus Stroman, who I was very bullish on, and who hit a speed hump that was probably a little easier to expect than I wanted it to be. He missed so much of 2015 that he’s essentially a second-year pitcher, which almost always means growing pains are in order. The fact that he has such a slim margin for error due to his height — because, as we saw, if he can’t keep the ball down in the zone, there’s a good chance it’s going to get hammered — should have also made me ease off on the expectations.
Secondly there’s Aaron Sanchez, who I was adamant needed to stay in the rotation — check-mark! — though I also spent a lot of time suggesting he should head to Buffalo’s rotation in order to give him more opportunities to work on his secondary stuff. Turns out his bowling ball of a sinking fastball is so effective that he’s proven that he can thrive in the big leagues right now, even as the secondary stuff remains a work in progress.
Third is Devon Travis, who I wasn’t so much wrong on (sensing a theme?), but who was a guy I tried very hard to pump the brakes on. Not only had we not seen enough of Travis to expect his terrific 2015 numbers to carry over, I didn’t think we’d seen enough to really even know what he might be. Now, though? The sample is still small, and he hasn’t exactly hit the cover off the ball since his return (94 wRC+ so far), but his defence isn’t nearly the weakness it was supposed to be, and I think Jays fans are right in feeling more and more comfortable with him as a hitter. Time to ease off the brakes a little.
Honourable mention to the godawful Rays, and to Drew Storen, who I was certainly wary of, but didn’t expect to fully turn into a literal can of dog shit.
What’s a realistic expectation for the Blue Jays at the trade deadline?
Honestly, I expect we’ll see a Grilli-like deal to add a reliever who can simply raise the bullpen floor a bit, and maybe a deal to add a guy who can take over the Gavin Floyd role of being a second Jesse Chavez — a decent-enough relief option in the short-term while actually being rotation insurance.
While it certainly would be nice to see them find a way to make a bigger splash without moving any of their better prospects or big league pieces, expecting it seems a bit rich.
That said, with a new regime in place, it wouldn’t be unprecedented to see more prospects moved than I’m suggesting. Not that I think the A.J. Preller approach is necessarily a great one, but Shapiro, Atkins, et al, may not feel the same way about some of their young farmhands as the Anthopoulos era guys do. So maybe they’ll be more willing than we expect to deal away some of the prospects they’ve decided they like less than the rest of the industry does.
How much longer should we expect Aaron Sanchez to remain in the rotation?
I’m actually going to go out on a limb here and say, based on absolutely nothing, that they get too squeamish about blowing such a hole in their rotation that they can’t actually bring themselves to do it. Maybe I’m just wishcasting there, but come on! He’s been so good, and so consistent, and hasn’t looked fatigued, and seems to genuinely be benefiting from that “man weight” he put on last winter. I don’t think they can justify to fans, nor to themselves, removing him from the rotation until they actually start seeing ominous signs — a changing release point, less spin on the ball, a dip in velocity, etc. — or hearing from the player himself that he’s not feeling right. Call me naive, but I think they might not actually reach that point.
Which AL East team poses the biggest threat to the Blue Jays: Red Sox or Orioles?
I’m guilty of consistently overlooking those damn Orioles… so let’s do it again! I just don’t think their starting pitching is good enough, and if I were an O’s fan I certainly wouldn’t trust their front office to pull the right strings and put the right pieces in place heading into the deadline, either.
That said, it’s not as if the guy who could never put together a bullpen in Detroit is a slam dunk to fix what’s ailing his Red Sox club. But Dave Dombrowski has swung some big deals in his day, and he has a ridiculous minor league system that is teeming with talent for him to deal from, so Boston is certainly scarier to me based on what they might actually add.
And that’s kinda the thing: I think what’s worrying is certainly more about what those teams might do than what they are as currently constituted. Because right now I think the Jays are better than both — and that both of those lineups have been playing over their heads so far (particularly Boston’s), while the Jays have only just begun to.