The Daily Duce: Monday, February 22nd

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Daily??!?

First off, I want to thank everybody for the kind words on the new site and for your patience as we get up to speed. I’m really looking forward to this new venture and definitely want to hear feedback from you all about how to make the site, including the comments, work as well as possible for everyone.

Hey, and a programming note before we begin: catch me on CTV’s Canada AM tomorrow morning at 8:30. No, really!

Before we get to the inevitable Bautista stuff, great work from the Blue Jay Hunter, who explains that the Jays are making the switch to dynamic pricing for single game tickets in 2016, and the system is already in place. “Our team analyzes multiple data points that may include day of week, opponent, team record, supply and demand of tickets purchased by fans, and many other factors. Timing for price adjustments is not pre-determined and will depend on market conditions,” the club’s Dynamic Pricing FAQ explains. Think airline tickets. Then think “oh… damn.” Then think, “but if that means a lot more money going back into payroll…”

And one more from Ian, as he’s spotted (via Reddit) an Instagram clip of Troy Tulowitzki’s swing, which includes a much more pronounced leg kick than when last we saw him. Look out, American League.

Jose Bautista, according to a tremendous quote via Gregor Chisholm, has done exactly what I suggested in my earlier post, taking the onus for getting his name on a contract extension away from Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins, and putting it squarely on Rogers Communications — and damn smartly, too:

“It’s no secret that in a publicly traded company, everybody can track their performance fairly easy. It’s not a secret, it’s out in the public. Stock prices are monitored very closely by the whole financial world and I think there’s a direct correlation with the success of their earnings per share after we started experiencing success. Are they going to put it out in the media and say because of the Jays we made all of this money? No. But everybody can read between the lines. Nobody has a way to measure how much money the team makes when we win because of the way that we’re structured. It’s really unfair to talk about revenue, payroll and all of that stuff to me, for this organization, are non-existent.”

John Lott hits the nail on the head, tweeting: “I prefer the candour of Jose Bautista to the false-hope lollipops served up by David Price when he was asked about returning to Toronto.”

Don’t take any of this stuff as meaning that the Jays and Bautista aren’t on the same page, mind you. Bautista says that himself, via a quote from Richard Griffin’s piece on it over at the Toronto Star. “I think they know and realize the things that I say and agree with me. It’s just a matter of are they willing to go there,” he explains. Right again.

Moving on, though sticking with the Star, Brendan Kennedy looks at something that I wrote about last week, which is the Jays’ future in Dunedin, and… uh… if Bautista is an example of a ruthless negotiator, I think we may have found his opposite in Dunedin mayor Julie Ward Bujalski, who says that the Jays — who, Brendan explains, pulled out of plans with the Astros two years ago over concerns that cost overruns on the project would have to be covered by the team and not local government — are part of the fabric of the community, and has a personal connection to the team having grown up in the area. “It’s kind of like family, you know? I don’t know how else to describe it.” She says that the sense is that the team wants to be a part of Dunedin, and Dunedin really wants them to be there. “We’ve got to show him how much we care,” she says of new club president Mark Shapiro. Shrewd!

More from the Star, as Brendan Kennedy looks at five Jays players to watch during spring training, while Richard Griffin waxes about the magic of spring, and looks at the schedule and gives fans six Jays road trips to plan your vacation around.

Oh, hey! R.A. Dickey had off-season knee surgery, we learned over the weekend, via a tweet from Gregor Chisholm. The rehab process was 4-6 weeks, he adds, and Dickey says everything is fine now and he’s ready to go. Thing is, if the knee was bothering him last year, he sure as hell didn’t show it. It was maybe hard to notice with all the runs the Jays kept scoring, but Dickey was tied with Marco Estrada for the AL’s second highest RA9 WAR in the second half. 

In the National Post, Ken Fidlin breaks down the Jays’ spring position battles.

The man who recorded the final out as the Jays clinched the 2015 AL East title, LaTroy Hawkins, reminisces about his career with MLB.com.

“I knew last June what the key was,” says Aaron Sanchez to Jayson Stark of ESPN about his lat injury last season. “I wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t ready for the workload. Now I am. I know what’s expected. And I know what it takes to pitch over 162 games and then some.” Hmmm.

Stark had more important things to do in Dunedin, though, penning a feature on Marcus Stroman for ESPN.com. Marcus is confident and short, it turns out! (He’s of course much more than that — read the piece, it’s good!)

Drew Hutchison has bulked up, too, apparently, tweets Scott MacArthur. Best shape of his life, I’m sure! But the thing is, Hutchison is hugely important to the Jays going forward. With R.A. Dickey, Jesse Chavez, and Drew Storen due to be free agents at the end of the season, being able to confidently replace them internally (and therefore not have to spend money to do so) is practically the only way the club is going to have a shot at re-signing Jose Bautista and/or Edwin Encarnacion, barring a significant payroll increase. Go Hutch!

Elsewhere from the club’s first morning of official workouts, Shi Davidi tweets that it was Josh Thole (and, therefore, not Tony Sanchez) who caught R.A. Dickey’s first bullpen session — which, given the importance of Dickey getting comfortable, maybe isn’t all that meaningful. Meanwhile, a somewhat forgotten curiosity of the off-season was the Jays’ acquisition of switch pitcher Pat Venditte, who Barry Davis tweets a video of as he switches from throwing left-handed to right-handed.

“There’s nothing particularly notable here as an amazing deal,” explains Dave Cameron of FanGraphs, as he ranks their moves the 19th best of the off-season, “but the Jays already have star players in place, and mostly needed to make sure those guys didn’t get dragged down by having too many replacement level scrubs in key positions. Adding solid role players isn’t the sexiest work, but it’s necessary, and the Jays did a decent job of that this winter, even after the drama that kicked off the offseason.”

Elsewhere at FanGraphs, August Fagerstrom looks at the winter in minor league free agents, showing that the Jays’ group has the second-highest career WAR, and is in the bottom 10 by WAR over the last three years, which… yep.

The Orioles have signed Yovani Gallardo — hard meh on that, he’s kinda bad — and Matt Trueblood of Baseball Prospectus reminds (read: informs) us that he’s a year younger than Jeff Samardzija. WTF?!?

Hey, it’s our old friend Brandon Morrow! And what’s this? He’s at the top of an MLBTR piece about pitchers statistically determined (er… predicted) to be the most likely to end up needing Tommy John surgery. Interesting piece, even though… y’know… probably could have told you that. (R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle are both in the bottom ten of that list, FWIW).

Lastly, Pablo SandoLOL. (I hesitate to suggest anyone read Dan Shaughnessy, and I know you’ve already seen the photo, but seriously: LOL).