Daily Duce: Wednesday, February 15th

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Daily??!!?!?

Aaron Sanchez isn’t exactly pleased with the media about the way the supposed feud between him and Marcus Stroman went from Reddit theorizing to genuine news this winter. He’s not wrong, either. “You guys like to take things and blow them up. He’s doing his thing, I’m doing mine, we’re still teammates,” he said this morning in Dunedin, according to a tweet from Irfaan Gaffar of Sportsnet.

And here’s where I blow this up: still… teammates? That’s not exactly the most inspiring description of a pair of former besties. In fact, it kinda sounds like a non-denial denial to me! On the other hand, who possibly gives a shit?

Speaking of Sanchez, Keegan Matheson tweets that John Gibbons told reporters today that young Sanchy isn’t going to be pushed especially hard in Spring Training, and that his first start will come on March 8th or 9th.

It’s a swing and a miss for the post-Keegan version of Jays Journal, as we’re told John Gibbons has “anointed” Justin Smoak his Opening Day first baseman. And the basis for this? When asked on Prime Time Sports last night about who his Opening Day first baseman would be “if Opening Day was tomorrow” — a wholly ridiculous question for the first official day of camp — Gibbons responded, “Well, that would be Smoak. But you could possibly see Pearce in there.” As I wrote yesterday, Gibbons clearly told reporters that he wanted to see how things shake out, both at first base and in left field. His comments on PTS are entirely in line with that. Words have meanings.

In a less clickbait-y one from Jays Journal, Jim Scott makes the case that the Jays should go after former Rockies pitcher, Jorge de la Rosa, who is still out there on the free agent market. A guy who can start who might also look rather good in relief? Works for me. At least on a minor league deal.

In case you missed it below, I’ve started contributing pieces to the Athletic (my first one unpacks some grim PECOTA projections for the Jays). It’s a subscription-based site, and if you’d like to check out my work there — plus that of a great collection of Jays writers, including John Lott, whose stuff will be found there exclusively this season — you can get yourself a discount on a subscription through this link

Two more from the Athletic this morning: John Lott talks to Russell Martin about the two injuries he’s now fully recovered from, but which derailed the end of his 2016 season, and the fact that he’s an insurance risk (something that kept him off Canada’s WBC team); meanwhile Sean Fitz-Gerald looks at the different approaches that TSN and Sportsnet have taken regarding the intersection of sports and politics in these dark days of the sentient Cheeto and his merry band of white nationalists attempting to run the American government into the ground.

Shi Davidi also has a piece on Martin and his injury-riddled 2016 over at Sportsnet.

Speaking of Shi, he had a great tweet this morning about J.P. Howell, the lefty reliever the Jays added late in the winter. Apparently Howell loves pitching in Toronto, and praised fans or doing their research, and for their R-rated chirps. Cool?

Oh, and another excellent one from the Athletic was from Jonah Keri, who wrote about the Jays, the way they’re building with depth, and their potential to actually have a sneaky-good bullpen this season.

Slightly related: Travis Sawchik of FanGraphs looks at the White Sox rebuild and the fact that the “stars and scrubs” approach to roster construction seems to be coming to an end across the league, as teams favour spreading out, rather than concentrating, their talent, and their risk. 

Robert MacLeod of the Globe and Mail talks to Joe Biagini about Joe Biagini, which… strays a little too close to encouraging Joe Biagini for my taste, but is worth a read anyway. Bonus points for avoiding the phrase “comic relief,” at least.

Good stuff from Scott C. of Bluebird Banter, as he suggests that the Blue Jays would be wise to see what they have in Dalton Pompey.

Baseball Prospectus has a “tale of the tape” feature comparing Michael Brantley and José Bautista, and have decided that, at this stage in their careers, Brantley is the better player to have. Pffft. Only if you don’t completely overlook defence the way we always do!

Ewan Ross of BP Toronto previews the hitters who will be suiting up in red and white for Team Canada at the upcoming World Baseball Classic, and… yikes.

Over at BlueJays.com, Gregor Chisholm writes about Cito Gaston, his legacy, and his early days as manager of the Blue Jays. I’m not sure of the reason for this piece, but you gotta love Cito, as long as you ignore his ridiculous return to the club at the end of the J.P. Ricciardi era and don’t pretend he was some kind of magician to begin with.

Lastly, as I’ve been noting every time I do one of these lately, if you’re an aspiring writer looking for exposure for your Blue Jays content, I’d love to help you out in whatever small way I can. My advice: start your own site. Once you do that, send me the link (or if you already have one and I haven’t been linking it, send it too!). I can be reached at via email at stoeten@gmail.com, or on Twitter at @AndrewStoeten. I will put your site in the RSS feed I use when compiling these posts. I will read what you write. If it’s good, I will point people to it. If it’s consistently good, we can definitely talk about having you do stuff for us. If we agree to work together and I don’t have it in the budget at that moment to pay for it, you’re welcome to do some things for us anyway, and if its gets good traffic and demonstrates value, I’ll certainly be able to make a business case to bring you on for pay.