The Daily Duce: Thursday, July 14th



At Today’s Knuckleball — which, based on the staleness of this item, maybe ought to change its name to “last March’s knuckleball” — Jon Heyman writes that the Blue Jays would be willing to give Jose Bautista a “Cespedes-like” contract; i.e. three years at $25-million per, or about half of what he’s reportedly asking for. Earlier in the week Heyman informed us that Edwin Encarnacion — who for some reason I would kinda rather see the Jays re-sign, I think — won’t negotiate with the club during the season, which we totally knew back in March as well. Not sure what’s going on there.

Speaking of an Edwin extension, he’s obviously being longingly looked at by the cruds in Boston, and according to a tweet from Jeff Blair this morning, it’s expected that the commissioner’s office will look into David Ortiz’s comments from after the All-Star Game as a case of potential tampering. I guess players *can* tamper, even if they’re not decision-makers. I wrote a little about this on Wednesday, mostly saying that it wasn’t tampering (whoops!) or that if it was it didn’t really matter anyway.

This week I also wrote about TV ratings, Rogers, and rumours — particularly the one about the Jays’ interest in Jay Bruce. The thinking behind that is that the Jays may want to go all-in on offence, rather than wading too deep into the limited and pricey pitching market. But maybe that isn’t even necessary. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs thinks that the Jays would be wise not to overlook Ezequiel Carrera, whose outsized contributions at the plate this year look to be based on tangible improvements when it comes to contact and exit velocity, as well as much better discipline, as he’s laid off breaking stuff much better than previously in his career. (Probably the man in white *COUGH*).

Sullivan’s colleague Austin Fagerstrom looked at how Kevin Pillar has also muscled up and increased the distance he’s been hitting the ball, though it has yet to yield benefits for him. Pillar has actually been a worse hitter this year — 83 wRC+ so far, compared to a 93 last season — though his defensive metrics have, somewhat unbelievably, improved from what looked last year like an outlier. He’s already produced a 15.5 UZR and 13 DRS, having been at 14.0 and 14 for the entirety of 2015.

Outstanding and insightful stuff, as always, from John Lott, as he writes at VICE Sports about how Josh Donaldson turned to Troy Tulowitzki in order to make himself a better defender at third base. Specifically: he wanted to improve his throwing accuracy, and the footwork needed to get himself into position to make a good throw. The results of his work with Tulo — who, you may remember, Donaldson roomed with in spring training — would seem to speak for themselves. Donaldson made 17 throwing errors in 2014 with Oakland, 10 last year for the Jays, and so far this season has only made two.

Shi Davidi of Sportsnet goes deep into the chemistry on Chris Colabello’s positive drug test — one of a spate of positives across the league for the same substance, Turinabol (aka… some acronym beginning with “D”). I saw folks tweeting that there might have been a chemistry error of some kind in this, but what the hell do I know? Colabello, of course, has begun a rehab assignment in Dunedin, as the end of his suspension draws nearer. He’ll likely have to hit his way up from Buffalo.

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Nick Ashbourne looks at the big role played by the Jays’ bench in the club’s first half success, while Jeff Simmons gives us ten relievers the Jays might look at with the trade deadline upcoming — a fairly uninspiring, yet probably realistic list.

Great stuff from Bluebird Banter, as Minor Leaguer talks to Dalton Pompey about some of the scary the aftereffects of a concussion he suffered in a nasty collision with the wall in Allentown, PA, last month. Features a GIF of the incident, too!

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle informs us that Rich Hill, who was scheduled to pitch tomorrow night as the Jays and A’s begin their weekend series in Oakland (and is that club’s biggest trade chip as the deadline approaches), has been scratched. Daniel Mengden will take his place [rubs hands together in anticipation]. Speaking of Hill, Susan noted last week that the Jays are one of a number of teams who have looked closely at the once-bad, now-good lefthander.

Scott Stinson of something called the National Post takes a look into the numbers from the Jays’ first half.

Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star gives out grades to the Jays for their first half performances. He also, hilariously, drops this on us: “Analytics fans will tell you Happ’s 12 wins mean little, but tell that to the Toronto clubhouse with its 11 games above .500 record.” What year is this???!?

Popular Science tweets a quick video of Kevin Pillar catching a ball dropped from a drone.

Not Jays-related, but some interesting stuff from MMQB on Pennsylvania-raised Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Jared Odrick, who has made downtown Toronto his off-season home. This is, as you might guess, not typical of most NFLers, but Odrick is obviously in love with the city. He’s also a bit of a reminder of how much of a playground for the rich downtown has become (and is further becoming).