Daily Duce: Monday, July 10th


If you’re an erudite-posturing Steve Simmons, you’re still just a Steve Simmons. Hey, and for what I’m sure are completely unrelated reasons to the preceding sentence, here’s Cathal Kelly’s latest for the Globe and Mail, in which Jays fans are being sold monorails by a dastardly front office they should already be forcing into full-on burn-it-down rebuild mode by deserting the Rogers Centre from here until they can come front-run again sometime in the 2020s. Perhaps you’d have to actually like sports to understand that a ballgame on a beautiful day, surrounded by friends, watching an MVP, an All-Star closer and first baseman, a Canadian legend behind the plate, one of the greatest players in team history still menacingly patrolling right field, fun-as-hell star pitchers like Stroman or Sanchez on the hill, mixed in with a little bit of hope — be it mostly false or otherwise — can be a beautiful thing. Or that your team effectively folding up its tent for a few years in order to be intentionally bad is not as fun, or even as cathartic, as it sounds.

Speaking of ol’ Simmer, he’s all cwanky about the Jays in his latest for the Toronto Sun. “It’s time to fix this team,” he harumphs in These Jays must be delusional, nearly two years after Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins noticed the same thing and began in earnest to focus on this team’s future while doing their best to build a competitive roster around its core without disrupting that process. It’s a team that “has only gotten worse since Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins took over as president and general manager,” he adds as though giving some grand damnation, utterly failing to recognize that their refusal to trade young talent to get better today, and focusing on mid-tier free agents so as to not be hampered with more dead money down the line while also maximizing their number of draft picks, has been precisely part of the effort he decries them for not making. It’s almost like it doesn’t matter whether it makes sense, so long as it’s negative. Pity the poor, uncritical Sun reader.


Back to the Globe, where there is actually some quite good stuff to check out: Jamie Ross looks at how the conflict back home is uniting ballplayers from Venezuela — including a particularly vocal player who just joined the Jays, Miguel Montero. Some players have been quiet about the situation, but “Montero has lent his voice to the pro-democracy movement there, speaking openly about his homeland’s plight and his desire for reform. He’s shared strong anti-Maduro sentiment and empathy for those struggling on his social media channels.”

The Globe also has an interesting piece from the AP, as Ronald Blum looks at how MLB’s strict spending limits on Latin American amateurs may cause a rise in player choosing to go to Asia to begin their professional careers.

The piece I would have led with if I didn’t have a couple of dumpster fires to deal with: Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports from the Futures Game, and looks at the MLB bloodlines of several of the prospects there, obviously including Jays “property” (as the TV broadcast of the game kept cringe-inducingly saying) Vlad Guerrero Jr. and holy-shit-I-just-wrote-Dante-when-I-meant-Bo-good-lord-I-am-so-fucking-old Bichette. Also: Canadian Cal Quantrill, who gives a hell of a quote on nature vs. nurture for a damn 22-year-old ballplayer.

Speaking of the Futures Game, Matt Snyder of CBS Sports nails it as he says that MLB should do the showcase of its future stars justice and not bury it on a Sunday afternoon with a ton of big league action still ongoing. Another good move would be for MLB Network get its shit together on the broadcast. Not sure what the hell that was on Sunday, but I didn’t like it.

Another I might have led with — at least, if I’d actually done a Duce on Friday — is this short and sweet one from Gideon Turk at BP Toronto, as he has an inside source tell him about what the Jays’ thinking is regarding trades. “Specifically, the team is open to trading any of their four players with fewer than a year of control left, namely Marco Estrada, Joe Smith, Francisco Liriano, and Jose Bautista. Additionally, the club will also listen to trade offers on a couple of players who will hit the free agent market after 2018, like Steve Pearce or J.A. Happ, but are in no hurry to move them. This lines up with what Mark Shapiro has been saying all along in the media.” Gideon’s source adds that “the team is even open to taking salary on in trades like they did last year,” and isn’t looking to dump salary and start a rebuild. As it should be!

Three more great ones from the folks at BP Toronto: Dylan Svoboda examines what’s wrong with Marco Estrada; Dave Church says the Jays need to consider a future without Devon Travis (which I get… though I wonder if we make too much of what’s essentially one long-term knee thing — granted, the fact it isn’t healing right is a concern — and shoulder bones that hadn’t fused properly when he was a kid; he missed a month in 2014 in the Tigers’ system but was generally healthy as a minor leaguer and at Florida State, so far as I can tell); and Charlie Clarke tells us about Kendrys Morales’s breaking ball problem.

Gold from Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, as he looks at Justin Smoak’s career year, and talks to the All-Star about the simple change that’s paid huge dividends for both him and the Jays.

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith has a look at organizational needs for the Jays as they head into the trade deadline. And Jeff Blair points out that Mark Shapiro would be making his job as president of the Rogers Centre — and the man who needs to extract budget from Rogers for the expensive overhaul it’s due — by blowing up ballclub and not giving the fans a product that they want to come and see.

Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs looks at the projected second half schedule strength for both the AL and NL, and finds that among the teams in the AL East, it’s your Toronto Blue Jays who have the lest toughest games remaining. And, to quote the excellent if obvious joke that was sent back my way when I tweeted as much, they don’t even have to play the Blue Jays!

Elsewhere at FanGraphs, they have begun their annual trade value series — nobody tell Bill Simmons! — and while it’s notable that Marcus Stroman checks in at number 47, it’s perhaps even more notable that Josh Donaldson only gets mentioned honourably, as one of the players from last year’s list no longer returning. “Yes, every team in baseball would love to have Harper, Machado, or Donaldson on their roster, but all three are eligible for free agency after next season. And while teams would absolutely give significant packages of talent to get these guys for even a year and a half of performance, it’s difficult to get a team to surrender a player good enough to make this list for a guy who could leave after next year,” explains Dave Cameron. Vlad Jr., by the way, makes the “maybe next year” second of honourable mentions — swoon!

MLBTR aggregates some content about the Jays being one of a few clubs to have their eyes on the White Sox’ José Quintana over the weekend. Probably little more than due diligence — the Jays are looking at a couple rotation holes next year, after all — but interesting nonetheless. Inside sources tell me that one of the scouts was heard to remark, “That creep can roll.”

Buster Olney wrote a thing about the Jays trading Marcus Stroman last week for ESPN.com. In it he concedes, “There is no indication that Stroman’s club, the Toronto Blue Jays, will dangle him this summer, but there is consensus among folks with other teams on this point: Toronto could extract a high return for him if it decides to drop him into conversations as a significant wild card in trade talks.” SO WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT IT THEN?

Hey, it’s actual optimism! Melissa Couto of the Canadian Press, via CBC.ca, gives us five ways the Jays can make up the five games they need to and get back into a playoff spot.

Interesting and fancy data-driven piece from Alex Speier of the Boston Globe on Chris Sale, and what it’s like to face the Red Sox ace-that-they-totally-had-to-trade-for-because-the-guy-who-was-supposed-to-be-their-ace-hates-it-there-and-wants-to-come-home-to-Toronto-(presumably).

Michelle Giesen and Kristoffer Pedlar, a pair of Jays fans writing for Good Read Mag, ruminate on the art of losing — something Jays fans have had to think a lot about in… every damn month of this season except May.

Lastly, Mark Buehrle has won the Home Run Derby, we can all go home:

*whispers* Actually Aaron Judge tho, holy shit…

Lastly lastly, Judge said some rather nice clichés about Roberto Osuna prior to his Home Run Derby victory (which… he won, right? like I’m watching). Rob Longley of the Sun has it covered.

  • The Humungus

    That derby was fun for a round, when guys like Sano and Stanton were in it whacking ginormous dongs. Then Stanton and Bour went out because of the bs tournament format and fuck it, I got drunk on Miller Lite and whiskey.

    • Jeff2sayshi

      The first round was actually a LOT of fun. And then guys couldn’t get in a groove, they were clearly tired, and it didn’t have that fun aspect. Plus… we all REALLY wanted to see Stanton/Judge and didn’t get that.

      • The Humungus

        I love the timed format, it actually makes it entertaining, especially when a guy gets on a run and just starts hitting moonshot after moonshot. I wish they’d get rid of the tournament format and make it top 4 advance. Stanton and Bour should have both been in the second round after what they did.

  • FlamesRock

    I just want to say thanks Andrew for all your great articles! Your the reason I subscribed to the athletic. As a new fan of baseball (I only really started watching a year ago) I find your articles easy to understand and informative!