The Daily Duce: Monday, September 26th



Jays fans can rejoice. Though we don’t yet know what this last week of the season will bring, or the playoffs beyond that, we have already witnessed something historic: the worst ball call in the Pitch F/X era. It was, of course, the middle-middle pitch that Yankees catcher Austin Romine butchered over the weekend with Josh Donaldson at the plate. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs writes a tremendous ode to it.

Nick “take all this shit with a grain of salt” Cafardo of the Boston Globe mentioned Jose Bautista in his big Sunday column this week, suggesting that the slugger might consider taking the qualifying offer, if the Jays make it (which seems a slam dunk), with the intention of rebuilding some of his market value following a tough season. “It’s not that Bautista won’t get a three-year offer somewhere,” he writes. “But it may not be for north of $20 million per.” Either way, I’m OK with the Jays doing it. Will Jose be? Hard to think so, but going into free agency at age 37 isn’t exactly lucrative either. Maybe a year-to-year thing like David Ortiz has sort of done will make sense? Maybe something involving mutual options? Let’s make this happen!

Speaking of Blue Jays facing uncertain fate, Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star writes about R.A. Dickey, who may have already thrown his last pitch for the organization, and admits that he’s wanted to be worth what the team gave up to acquire him back in the winter of 2012, which has been difficult because… y’know. Hey, so it wasn’t just us!

More great stuff from Brendan at the Star, as he talks to Blue Jays players for their reactions to Sunday morning’s tragic death of Marlins star Jose Fernandez — one of which, Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun points out in an excellent piece (no, really), was that Edwin Encarnacion muted his walk-up music for Sunday’s game against the Yankees. Brendan also goes over five keys to the Jays’ big walk-off win.

Back to the Sun, and to Bautista, Steve Buffery looks at the suddenly rejuvenated slugger and how he’s trying to focus on the here-and-now, and not thinking about his murky future with the club. Meanwhile, Cathal Kelly gets in on the Jose love, too, over at the Globe and Mail, wondering aloud if this is the return of the old Jose Bautista.

More great stuff as Greg Wisniewski of BP Toronto looks at Bautista as a comic book hero. And elsewhere at BP Toronto, Mike Sonne has yet another Stuff Report — which this time shows Marco Estrada maintaining an uptick that puts him closer in line with where he was earlier in the season, and Francisco Liriano looking as good as we’ve seen, both of which pass the smell test.

Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet gets deep into some rosterbation while thinking about how the Jays might setup their Wild Card play-in game roster.

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Jeff Blair writes a piece ostensibly about the Jays’ “situational pitching,” but which also — after the hockey bits — includes a nugget on the impending free agency of Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. “Truth is, more teams think Encarnacion can play first base everyday than think Bautista can still be an effective right-fielder. The question for Encarnacion and Kinzer is how much first base he wants to play. Folks in Toronto live in fear of Encarnacion ending up in Boston, but I’m with my pal Jon Paul Morosi: I can see the Houston Astros making a big play for his bat. He’s be a great fit in the team’s clubhouse and the fact Texas has no state income tax will help them since Encarnacion will want to keep as much as possible from what is likely his first and last big payday.”

The only drawback to the whole Astros thing, of course, is that it would mean Edwin having to spend a whole lot of time in Houston. And who the hell would willingly do that? (Better than him going to Boston, though, if he’s going to have to go elsewhere, amiright?)

Jim Bowden of writes about managers on the hot seat as the season winds down and… doesn’t mention John Gibbons? Hmmm. I can live with that.

At Today’s Knuckleball, Bernie Pleskoff scouts Jays prospect Rowdy Tellez. He’s bullish. (No, that’s not a typo.)

Yahoo’s Eh Game has some pics of Team Canada — the hockey version — showing up for a visit with the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Sunday, which… is there some sort of a hockey thing going on? Shouldn’t these guys be in training camp with their teams?

Lastly, ICYMI in the Weekend Wrap post below, head over to Soundcloud for the latest Birds All Day mini ‘sode, in which Drew addresses the Jays’ rotation, as well as the death of Jose Fernandez. Getting a little dusty in here. (And not just because I’m weeping at the idea, which Drew argues for, of J.A. Happ starting the Wild Card play-in game.)