At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like Cathal Kelly’s piece on Sunday’s series finale for the Globe and Mail, but in the end he absolutely nailed it. “This was more than entertaining. This was the game that proved Toronto has already processed its slide – seven losses in the past nine games – and come out the other end,” he wrote. “The Blue Jays may have lost, but they looked like their swaggering selves in doing so. … On Friday, it felt like it might be the beginning of the end. By Sunday, it felt more like the end was finally beginning. And that everything was still entirely possible.” Fuckin’ eh.
We probably could use a little more hopefulness about the Blue Jays right now than just Cathal’s piece. I mean, Francisco Liriano is still pitching tonight, right? Oh, and there’s no Josh Donaldson in the lineup? Well that’s just swell. But we do have some hopefulness here too, and it involves Liriano, the Jays’ trade for him, and what it says about the Jays’ financial picture, and what the financial incentives for the team going forward say about what the team is going to look like. To wit: it’s hard to envision Rogers slaying this golden goose with payroll slashing. Or, at least, that’s what Matt Gross is getting at in his latest at Bluebird Banter.
Speaking of (sort of), I guess I was rolling my eyes as I read the start of Richard Griffin’s the Jays really need Joey Votto piece in the Toronto Star last month, but apparently he said that at one point last season the Jays and Reds “were beginning serious discussions” about the Canadian superstar. He… uh… also says that “the talks never gained momentum,” which… so… uh… how “serious” were these discussions again? Anyway! I didn’t know that until I saw MLBTR link to it on Sunday evening as they were passing along the latest bit of unnecessary, clickbait-y Votto talk, which comes by way of our old friend Nick Cafardo.
Indeed, in his Sunday column for the Boston Globe, Cafardo — who is awfully difficult to take seriously, it should be noted — makes the Votto-Toronto connection… in about as vague a way possible. Here’s the entirety of what he wrote. “Votto was born in Toronto. The feeling is if the Blue Jays shed Jose Bautista and Encarnacion in free agency, they could take on Votto with the Reds paying a portion of the $192 million remaining on his deal through 2024. Problem is, the Jays may not have the prospects Cincinnati wants. Therein lies the stumbling block.” So maybe they could, but maybe they can’t! Gee, thanks!
Elsewhere at MLBTR, we’re told about a couple minor moves made by the Jays recently — the release of both Matt Dominguez and Quinton Berry. Maybe I’m getting too conspiratorial on this, but the Berry one is interesting, as they note that he was signed on August 31, making him playoff eligible, and a stolen base specialist who has had utility on the playoff roster of the Tigers and Red Sox in years past. The Jays have Dalton Pompey for that role, but I guess Berry could have been brought in as insurance. Or maybe he was signed to keep him out of somebody else’s hands? I’d have to have actually given this more than three seconds of thought to be anything close to certain, but hmmm…
BP Toronto has their latest Stuff Report from Dr. Mike Sonne, and while it’s interesting as usual, what I’m most intrigued by is the uptick from Marco Estrada. The results may not have caught up yet, but maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel here.
Elsewhere at BP Toronto, Nick Dika takes a look at what the 1993 Blue Jays — who had their own six-game losing streak from September 3rd to September 9th — can tell us about this year’s version of the club. The MLB Standings On Any Date page at Baseball Reference shows us that the last loss of that streak left the Jays tied with the Yankees for first in the AL East, with the Orioles just a half game back.
Hey, it’s a tonne of things from Sportsnet! Jeff Blair thinks the battle for the AL East may come down to bullpens, and talks to Devon Travis about the club’s “awesome” players-only meeting that the second-baseman thinks helped. Arden Zwelling waxes on the reasons Russell Martin leaps into dugouts, while Michael Grange looks at Martin’s role on this team and how valuable he is to them. Ben Nicholson-Smith looks at the remaining schedules for the clubs in the AL East and how they will be a factor in the race for the division crown, while Mike Wilner offers more answers to Frequently Asked Questions, such as why R.A. Dickey is OK and shouldn’t be in the bullpen. (Dickey, by the way, is available out of the bullpen tonight, though he’s slated to start again at some point in Anaheim).
A few from the Toronto Star here too, as Rosie DiManno looks back on Sunday’s wild game, while Bruce Arthur gives us one about the Jays through the prism of the Tragically Hip’s Courage (which is now Russell Martin’s walk-up song), and another about how the club’s starting pitching has kinda gone sideways of late.
Jays Journal notices that the Jays have had a poor record in one-run games since John Gibbons has been manager, and did so in his previous tenure as well — which they’re quick to point out probably doesn’t mean anything, but they’ll just leave that here anyway. (If you actually believe that, right in front of our noses, John Gibbons has been butchering one-run leads with some kind of demonstrable blind spot, as if he doesn’t manage pretty damn close to by the book, then I really don’t know what to tell you. It’s not magic.)
The Blue Jay Hunter also notices that Gibbons — or, let’s be honest, whoever the video guy is that’s informing him — has the worst record in the league when it comes to getting replay challenges overturned. Only 39% of his challenges have been successful, which isn’t good, and yet I kinda love this. Why? Because with the way that umpires are allowed to initiate challenges themselves — and do so with little prodding, even after a team has lost its challenge — what the hell does it matter if you lose your challenge anyway? Challenge everything remotely close, I say!
Back to Bluebird Banter, where Matt W asks the question nobody should possibly give a shit about: why wasn’t Chad Girodo made a September call-up by the Jays? It cool that someone gets a chance to act like they’ve outsmarted the team, I guess, but really? This is worth getting pissy about? And trying to work a “cheap Rogers” angle in there? Jeez.
Lastly, an interesting and important piece from Bob Nightengale of USA Today, who talks to the Orioles’ Adam Jones about the Colin Kaepernick national anthem issue, and while the headline focuses on his comments on why we haven’t seen the same kind of reaction in MLB, he had a whole lot else that was pretty damn thoughtful to say as well.