Some background from Morgan Campell of the Toronto Star on the announcement this week that the Jays will be partnering with StubHub — a deal making them the 29th team in the league to do so. Turns out the StubHub people think it’s great, but do consumers? I honestly have no idea.
Keith Law does some predicting for ESPN.com, and as most normal people would, he figures on the Jays finishing second in the AL East. What’s slightly odd, though, is that he says “their rotation is weak after the top two.” One of those is definitely Aaron Sanchez, and the other is… Stroman? I’d wager. But I don’t even know. Which maybe says something.
On the other hand, at Fan Rag, Jon Heyman ranks the Jays 8th in his power rankings, behind only Cleveland and Boston among AL teams, and he says that their “young rotation borders on brilliant.” Hey, Liriano, Happ, and Estrada are young to somebody I’m sure.
Speaking of season preview-y stuff, Israel Fehr of the Athletic takes a look around the AL East, while elsewhere over there, John Lott speaks to Mike Bolsinger, who is still on the bubble as far as making the Blue Jays’ roster is concerned, and is nervous about it (though the fact that he is out of options gives him a bit of an edge, one supposes).
The bullpen, of course, won’t look the same in October as it does on Opening Day. Hell, it won’t look the same in two weeks as it does on Opening Day, most likely. And one of the names to watch who will begin his season down in the minors is Tim Mayza, a hard-throwing lefty who gets some love from Azam Farooqui of Beyond the Box Score.
Great stuff from Gideon Turk at BP Toronto, as he talks to Rowdy Tellez about the story that he took pages of notes during a dinner with Troy Tulowitzki in Dunedin recently — though technically the story, which came straight from the mouth of Mark Shapiro in a recent radio appearance, wasn’t correct: Rowdy wrote down everything he could remember after the fact, not during. “This wasn’t an isolated incident either,” Gideon writes. “Shapiro told a story where Major League veteran Sean Casey was in camp and talking to Tellez, and Casey thought he was texting instead of listening to what he was saying. It turned out that Tellez was typing notes on his phone. When asked about this habit of taking notes, Tellez said that he ‘wants to learn as much’ as he can when given the opportunity.” You gotta love this about him and you really have to root for him. I wouldn’t get too excited just yet — he’s got a long way to show he can be an everyday contributor at the big league level — but damn right you should keep your eye on how he does in Buffalo this year.
Poking its head out above the weeds of SEO-bait titles (“Blue Jays…”, “Blue Jays…”) and insufferable autoplay videos over at Jays Journal is an interesting one from Chris Henderson on what appears to be the Jays’ final position player decision: Ryan Goins or Melvin Upton. I’m no huge Upton backer — though I think he’s got a decent chance of being fine or better against left-handed pitching, and if they really want to give him some chances against right-handers that’s probably OK — but the thing about Goins, to me, is: aren’t there a whole bunch of all-glove infielders that do pretty much exactly what you’d be asking him to? He’s been a fun part of this team, and his defence is especially spectacular, and Melvin is thoroughly uninspiring, but the Jays need to be adding outfielders, not losing them.
Interesting stuff, as Statcast evaluates the best outfielders in the league, and naturally Kevin Pillar grades out well: about exactly as well as Kevin Kiermaier according to the “plays made above average” metric they’re using, though they’re both well behind Ender Inciarte and Billy Hamilton. Hmmm.
Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star tells us that baseball’s return to Montréal seems a step closer today than the last time the Blue Jays were here, though over at Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith speaks to the most visible backer of a return for les Expos, Warren Cromartie, and finds him preaching patience.
Ian Hunter of the Blue Jay Hunter has an outstanding idea to celebrate the Jays’ visit to Montréal: he’s compiled all the best Blue Jays calls in French from the legendary TVA Sports duo Jacques Doucet and Rodger Brulotte.
Mike Wilner tweets that Orioles reliever and noted mouthy rickbag Darren O’Day has the flu and is staying in Florida for now. This, of course, means that it’s possible José Bautista won’t get a chance to yet again own him on Opening Day. Booooo.
Jays Droppings ruminates on everybody’s other favourite target — no, not Rougie Odor, Justin Smoak!
Callum Ferguson of Jays From the Couch wonders if it’s time for the Blue Jays to cut ties with Justin Smoak, while I wonder if it’s time for baseball writers to cut ties with batting average (hint: it is). A good piece otherwise, though, as it touches on something Drew brought up on the latest Birds All Day: the idea that Kendrys Morales is going to lock down the DH spot for the Jays, leaving first base open to a rotation of guys like Bautista, Pearce, etc. Unlike what the writer posits, I don’t think anybody should be moving Bautista to first base to give more playing time to literally any of the outfielders currently in the organization (Pompey could make a case eventually — and I don’t count Pearce as one), but if they find some actual capable everyday big league options for the corner outfield spots, it makes sense. For the time being, though, Smoak is not killing you and people should probably relax.
Ever wonder what former Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen is doing these days? Turns out he’s still pitching… for Aceros de Monclova in the Mexican League. Doesn’t seem a half bad way to spend your days, frankly.
Very interesting stuff from R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports, as he looks at how MLB teams seem to have found a new market inefficiency in their scouting departments: internet writers with backgrounds in advanced stats. Ahead of the curve on this is, you’ll not be surprised, the front office you love to hate: Cleveland.
Elsewhere at CBS Sports, Matt Snyder previews the 2017 edition of the Blue Jays, as does Jonah Keri in video form!
Great stuff from Gerard Gilberto of MiLB.com, as he profiles the top prospects in the Blue Jays’ system.
Speaking of prospects, Chris Mitchell of FanGraphs compiles a master prospect ranking list that combines the rankings for each prospect on all the major ones (BA, BP, Keith Law, John Sickels, MLB.com, and FG’s own). Vladito ranks 38th on the master list, though there’s a pretty wide variance between the sources on him — BP had him outside their top 101, while BA had him 20th.
Lastly, and elsewhere at FanGraphs, 53 of their writers have provided predictions for the upcoming season. Jays related: 33 of the 53 had them making the playoffs in some way or another, with six backing them for the AL East, 18 giving them the first Wild Card, and nine giving them the second. Only Cleveland, Boston, and Houston had more votes for making the playoffs. As for individual awards, two brave souls picked Marcus Stroman for the AL Cy Young, one picked Aaron Sanchez (no word on whether this has caused any strife between the two), and nobody picked Josh Donaldson as the AL MVP, which is fucken dumb.