The Josh Donaldson profile from Toronto Life truly is must-read stuff. Great work by Malcolm Johnson. Donaldson is a goddamn cartoon character. But at least he’s our cartoon character.
Awesome stuff from Israel Fehr of the Athletic, as he spoke to Russell Martin following last night’s loss, and found a catcher willing to shoulder the blame for a couple of bad outcomes in key at-bats — including Mitch Moreland’s home run.
Joy Frank-Collins of Jays From The Couch has a great one looking at the Cleveland influence not just in the Blue Jays’ front office, but in front offices all around baseball. Specifically she talks to both Mark Shapiro and the Pirates’ Neal Huntington about the links and the old days.
Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star talks to Troy Tulowitzki, who is hopeful that lessons learned about never giving up on a season from back his Rockies days — Rocktober, etc. — can be applied to this awful Blue Jays start.
Great stuff from Keegan Matheson of BlueJays.com, as he talks to Kevin Pillar about being the club’s lead-off hitter, and considers the changes the Jays’ centre fielder has made over the course of this off-season that will hopefully help him to do so.
Elsewhere at BlueJays.com, Gregor Chisholm takes another dip into the Griff Bag’s infinitely less bent cousin, his Inbox. GUESS WHAT THE QUESTIONS ARE ABOUT!
Craig Forde of MiLB.com has some Eastern League notes for this week, and holy shit, Anthony Alford is lit. He’s killing it in the early season for the Fisher Cats, and had this tidbit to lay on us, too: “I sat down and talked with Tim Raines for about an hour and a half midway through Spring Training,” said Alford. “Being blessed to be able to talk to a Hall of Famer and just pick his brain about the stuff he struggled with and the things that helped him along in his career, it made my level of expectation higher. It gives me something more to strive for.” Timmy the Best!
The Blue Jays announced on Tuesday that Juan Graterol, aka Vitamin G, has been dealt to the Angels for a player to be named later (or cash). Over at Bluebird Banter, Minor Leaguer contemplates the possibility of that PTBNL being Mike Trout. He also wonders what Graterol’s time in Blue will most be remembered for (clearly it’s wearing number 69), and looks at Blue Jays April trades throughout history!
From the Should of signed Thames file, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs pivots on work from his colleagues there about Eric Thames’ ridiculous power numbers, his improved ability to make contact, and tells us that the Brewers’ new slugger also is one of the league’s leaders in laying off pitches outside of the zone. Watching a team that could hit the ball seems fun.
Elsewhere at FanGraphs, Travis Sawchik looks at some early batted ball trends, and focuses in particular on the league-wide increase in flyballs. Cue Josh Donaldson references!
Brendan Panikkar of Jays Journal wonders if Doug Fister could be an option for the Jays as they deal with starting pitching injuries, and holy shit we have to at least consider this.
Interesting stuff from Jon Gruber, who looks at what makes Ezequiel Carrera a guy that John Gibbons will actually hit at the top of his lineup — something he’s doing again tonight (Zeke hits second, behind Kevin Pillar).
An awesome one from Kristopher Pedlar of Good Read Magazine on the great José, and embracing our inner Bautista.
Hey, remember Ángel Pagán? Well, it turns out that, according to a report from Puerto Rico’s El Vocero, as relayed by MLB Daily Dish, he’s going to sit out this season. So… there’s that.
Lastly, CBS Sports’ MLB power rankings focus on the Jays and ohmygodthey’re28th. Meanwhile, Jonathan Bernhardt of Fan Rag looks at the mess the Blue Jays are in, and how the way they planned out their roster brought it upon them. “If your idea is to build a team of cheap, okay-to-good players who might run into a career-year and can be replaced if they don’t pan out, then you’re making a blind bet with yourself that some of them, at least, will over-perform,” he writes. “Because if they all perform to career averages or, worse, they all go cold at the same time, you’re left with quite a bad team indeed. And none of that roster flexibility matters if, at the deadline, you’re so far out of contention that it makes no sense to go out and get a guy to replace Ezequiel Carrera, Justin Smoak, Steve Pearce or any member of the bullpen not named Osuna.”
With their budget and roster composition such as it was, it was completely understandable why the front office would go this route — and why they almost had no choice but to go this route — but, unfortunately, he ain’t wrong. We just have to hope that these first two weeks aren’t indicative of bigger trends, or that the Jays have fallen so far out that it won’t matter come July. But here’s the scary question: even if they do get back to a point where at the trade deadline they feel like they can squint enough to see the playoffs, would you trade the possibility of a pretty quick turnaround — with the current crop of prospects and young big leaguers, and a haul from a mid-season fire sale, it’s not entirely unrealistic to think that by 2019 they’d be at the start of a real upswing — for that shot at the 2017 playoffs? The answer to that is not an easy one.