Let’s start with a programming note for those who missed my “old man becoming everything he once hated” news on Twitter yesterday: this year I’ll be doing a Griff-style Blue Jays mailbag for VICE!!! I’d love it if you hit me up with some great questions for the first one, so it can be a real cracker. Send ’em to firstname.lastname@example.org. (In the future we might get a fancier email address for it. Also, as with all the stuff I do for other publications, you won’t need to hunt for it, as you’ll be able to find it right here at Blue Jays Nation as well).
More about me? OK. So it turns out I didn’t recap Wednesday’s “action” between the Jays and… whoever it was that they played. I… uh… I want to say the… Orioles? Annnnnywho: all you really need to know is that Mat Latos was bad again and Lourdes Gurriel hit fucken laser beam of a home run that made us all a-tingle. Gurriel looked the part on Thursday, as well, and is impressing his manager so far (that is, now that he’s healthy and playing again). “When they signed him they said this kid can play. And he’s just like Morales—they both love playing the game,” said John Gibbons after today’s “game” against the “Phillies” in “Clearwater,” according to an Arden Zwelling “tweet.” (And speaking of Morales and his passion, don’t forget that I wrote a bit about that this week for VICE Sports).
Something Gurriel-related that I noted on Twitter yesterday, which I hadn’t realized at the time he was signed: as much as we talk about him being on a $22 million, seven year contract, and how that is a reflection of where he stands as a prospect, relative to some of the much more expensive Cuban youngsters we’ve seen come into the league in recent years, there’s a real possibility that his deal is structured so that’s really his salary floor. MLBTR explained at the time he signed that Gurriel may be able to opt into the MLB’s standard arbitration process once he’s eligible — something that was written into the contracts for José Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, Yasiel Puig, and others. Gurriel’s contract still falls quite a bit short of those ones, but I suppose the point is that the expectations on him might be reasonably higher than the somewhat tepid ones that $22 million over seven years might suggest. Get on board!
And, since we’re talking about Gurriel, I’d be remiss if I didn’t link to our old friend John Lott’s outstanding piece on him from this week over at the Athletic. It’s an outstanding piece, and they’re doing some great stuff over there, so the small paywall is well worth paying to get beyond. (Full disclosure: this season my stuff will sometimes be appear there, as well).
Something from the Athletic that’s not paywall’d is their Jays podcast, 5th Deck. I was a guest on this week’s episode, talking WBC, Brett Lawrie and all sorts of other Blue Jays things with host Blake Murphy. Here’s the iTunes link, or right here you can have a listen:
Moving on… John Gibbons “jokingly” calls the new way managers can call for intentional walks a “rinky-dink rule” in this ESPN.com piece. “Jokingly” as in “I’m gonna act like I’m saying this ‘jokingly’ so I don’t get a call from the league.” GibbyTheBest.
“They’ve been doing a pretty good job of trying to keep me down as long as possible before I tell them: ‘No more, I’ve got to be out there,’” says Josh Donaldson, referring to the Blue Jays’ training staff, in a piece from Ben Nicholson-Smith at Sportsnet. “I feel like I could play tomorrow,” he added. And that was yesterday!
Some great ones from the crew at FanGraphs: the prolific Travis Sawchik talks to José Bautista about nutrition, his regimen, and looks at him as a test case for how the 21st century baseball player will age. Meanwhile, Craig Edwards graphs the league’s projected Opening Day payrolls (the Jays rank 8th), Sawchik has another one in which he wonders if there’s hope for Brett Lawrie, and Jeff Sullivan is intrigued by former Blue Jay and current Detroit Tiger, Matt Boyd.
Great stuff, as always, from BP Toronto, as Josh Howsam talks to Russell Martin about the art of calling pitches.
Elsewhere at BP Toronto, Kyle Matte looks at the Jays’ middle infield depth, which is already being tested by the ongoing Devon Travis situation, and… let’s be honest… isn’t great.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports talks to José Bautista about a new season and lessons learned on the free agent market — and learns, or at the very least doesn’t have it denied, that José left at least one $50 million offer on the table to return to the Jays. I wouldn’t want to be stuck on the Phillies for three years either, at this point.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today also checks in with a profile on Bautista for his U.S. national audience. (Speaking of Nightengale, he tweets that Marcus Stroman will take the ball on Saturday for the U.S.A. against Bautista’s Dominican Republic. NOW WHO SAYS THE WBC IS UNWATCHABLE, WATERED-DOWN TRASH? HMMM???)
If you read the whole Boston Globe interview with David Price that I wrote about earlier today, you may have noticed a part where the Boston writer made a bit of a dig at Jays GM Ross Atkins, saying that “the Toronto general manager is talking up seven-inning games.” Uh.. “talking up”? Atkins was one of several executives asked by Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com to explain what they’d do if they had the power to change one rule for a day, just to see the impact it had on strategy and the workings of the game. Yes, Atkins proposed seeing what seven-inning games would be like. No, this is not the Jays GM “talking up seven-inning games.” Jesus, Boston.
The Blue Jays woke up today with a 2-8 record in Grapefruit League play, and so Bluebird Banter looked into how badly it would hurt their playoff chances if they began the actual season with a record like that. Because this is what Spring Training does to people. In-fucking-terminable.
I shit you not, Stephen Cheeseman of Jays Journal tells us about Matt Bushmann, who is now of the Buffalo Bisons. The Jays picked him — Bushmann, not Cheeseman — this week and almost immediately assigned him to Buffalo. No word on Glenn Sparkman’s involvement in any of this.
Get ready for some WBC action tonight, as Canada
gets slaughtered by takes on José Bautista and the reigning champions from the Dominican Republic. Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star has a pair of pieces to get you ready for it: one on Dalton Pompey’s role with the Red and White, and another on whether camaraderie can win games — which our boys sure better hope, since they’re a liiiiiiiiiiittle short on talent in this one.
Elsewhere at the Star, Rosie Di Manno talks to Kevin Pillar, who turned down a chance to play for Team Israel at the WBC.
Mark Didtler of the Associated Press tells us, via the Globe and Mail, about Éric Gagné and his hope that his performances in the WBC can spur a big league comeback. Yankees blog Pinstripe Alley tweets that when Gagné last pitched in the majors, Manny Machado was a junior in high school.
Also from the AP, but this time via the Toronto Sun, we’re told that Roy Halladay has taken a job as a roving instructor with the Phillies. Cue indignation from insufferable Jays fans dying to piss on literally anything, no matter how utterly inconsequential. And actually… now that you mention it, I may have had some fire takes on this
Over at the Blue Jay Hunter, Ian tells us that Josh Donaldson’s new earring — which wasn’t exactly loved by some of his teammates — was inspired by Gary Sheffield (who he’s been hanging out with) and Barry Bonds. I love this, but I’m thinking probably you don’t.
Guide time!: Ryan Di Francesco of Jays Droppings offers a guide
to trying to write like me in 2007 for bandwagon Blue Jays fans as we get ready for the 2017 season, while Kris Pedlar of Good Read Magazine takes a shorter view with a Toronto-centric guide for the pre-season baseball fan.
Meanwhile, South of the 6ix thinks ahead to what might happen if Devon Travis starts the season on the DL.
Not specifically Jays-related, but an interesting one from Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News, as he looks into whether “fastball mania” — i.e. baseball’s increasing velocity among pitchers — is having a detrimental effect on young arms.
Also not specifically Jays-related, but well worth a read: R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports on MLB’s data evolution in the Statcast era, and how teams are far beyond “Moneyball” in terms of how they evaluate players. Worth it just for the pic of Josh Donaldson in Blue Jays gear visiting Billy Beane’s office in Oakland back in 2015!
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 email@example.com (I will respond… eventually), 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.
I’ve been a little slow responding to some of these, because email is trash and I hate it, but I assure you I will!