We’ll start off with a straight-up awesome one from Josh Howsam at BP Toronto, as he provides us with a quote from The Wire for every Blue Jays pitcher, re: their 2017 season. Need I say more? A piece on position players is sure to follow.
Another great one from BP Toronto comes our way from Tammy Rainey, who explains why a Josh Donaldson extension might not be as expensive as we think — a topic I covered in my latest Jays mailbag for Vice Sports (albeit with higher figures).
Over at Sportsnet, Shi Davidi looks everything that went wrong for the Jays in 2017, which… Jesus, how long is this article going to be???
Elsewhere, Shi takes a look at the Josh Donaldson extension talk, the platitudes Ross Atkins hid behind on Tuesday, and whether or not any of this is realistic. He also tells us that Roberto Osuna is determined to get back to his fastball in 2018. And another one from Sportsnet is a short audio clip of John Gibbons talking about Devon Travis’s injury issues, saying that doctors have basically told the young second baseman that he’s probably going to have to battle injuries, to varying degrees, for the rest of his career — though the skipper adds that a lot of it is going to come down to how much pain he can tolerate.
One more from Sportsnet, as Gare Joyce has an incredible “big read” over there, The Fall of ’87, which is all about the Jays’ unforgettable — for all the wrong reasons — collapse at the end of the 1987 season.
Perhaps the most interesting thing to come from Tuesday’s presser was what Atkins didn’t say — specifically about the “inefficiencies” of communication between the front office and an injured player like Aaron Sanchez. Over at the Athletic, John Lott tries to make sense of it at all, despite not being given a whole hell of a lot to work with by the GM.
Elsewhere at the Athletic, we turn to Zack Meisel of their Cleveland bureau, as he looks at a former Blue Jay in “the story of [Cleveland Baseball Franchise] pitcher Joe Smith, his ailing mom and a reason to treasure every day of life.” Great stuff.
Gregor Chisholm of BlueJays.com looks back at the Atkins presser as well, leading off with the GM’s strong comments in support of his manager: “I feel strongly that he’s a part of our solution, and I love going to work with him every day.” Fuckin’ eh.
Elsewhere from the folks at MLB.com, with the season in the books, Jonathan Mayo looks at the order of the first round of the draft — in which the Jays find themselves picking twelfth.
Ho hum, Vlad Guerrero Jr. ranked as the number one Midwest League prospect for Baseball America this season. “His hit tool is a plus weapon, at least the equal of his power. He has been compared with Edwin Encarnacion for his potential offensive impact.” Nails muc–*YAWN*…
More Vlad stuff, as Chris Mitchell of FanGraphs looks at the players that the site’s KATOH projection system got right in 2017, and Vladito was certainly one of them, as the system completely loved him long before the talk of being the top prospect in the game started. Meanwhile, Chris also looks at players that KATOH got wrong, and there’s a Jays connection here, too: Rowdy Tellez. “Tellez struggled mightily at Triple-A this year and no longer projects to hit enough to be a productive first baseman,” we’re told, which is probably fair, given the questions that already surrounded young Rowdy… but I’d certainly give him a mulligan on what was a tough year off the field for him, as he tried to balance that with some big expectations and an adjustment to more advanced pitching (while moving to a less friendly offensive environment). Oh, don’t get me wrong, I had my doubts before, and I still do, but I don’t think we should be writing him off or anything just yet.
Over at the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin tells us that the status quo isn’t good enough for these Blue Jays going forward, and while I’m inclined to believe that the conversation could have been quite different right now with just a little health, say, from Josh Donaldson and Aaron Sanchez, I also can’t disagree with him.
Today in takes I do not get we have one from Jays Journal imploring the club to do whatever it can, including eating money, to get rid of Kendrys Morales, which… look, Morales was not good, and his contract is not good, but there’s no need to make this more than what it is. The “base clogger” stuff from 2007 just doesn’t move the needle, nor does the thing about rotating other players through the DH slot, as though Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, et al, are going to actually be up for more than a handful of games each away from their preferred positions. I’m not saying don’t move Morales if the right opportunity comes along, but forcing it is silly. He was a very productive player in 2015 and for the final four months of 2016 (131 and 135 wRC+ respectively), and he was no faster then than he is now. The exit velocity stuff that made us think there might be more still in his bat all held up in 2017, despite the poor results. That doesn’t mean that he’s going to turn in a productive 2018, but these are things to consider. Meanwhile, over at Jays From the Couch, we’re told that the Jays need to go into the off-season with the attitude that they won’t get anything at all out of Devon Travis, which… OK, I get it. It’s just… they will get something out of him. The difficulty is knowing how much, but the club is certainly going to do everything in his power to keep him as healthy and productive as possible. I’m not saying leave the position alone, but good luck trying to convince free agent second basemen that your starter doesn’t exist!
I’ve argued in the past that they ought to think of Travis — or whoever they bring in behind him — more as a left fielder, which would mean that, if he gets hurt, you’re bringing up an Anthony Alford or Teoscar Hernández to fill in, rather than testing your middle infield depth. Maybe that’s essentially the same thing the JFtC piece was arguing and I’m just being a dick, but I dunno. Whichever the case, one name that I wrote about earlier this summer was Dee Gordon (who certainly could work in left field for the Jays whenever Devon Travis is healthy, and probably wouldn’t cost all that much given Miami’s reported willingness to unload contracts, though I do have some concerns about his bat), and he comes up in another piece from JFtC, which… yeah, Dee Gordon sounds not too bad!
Elsewhere still at JFtC, Jeff Q tries to find us the “impact arm and impact bat” Ross Atkins told reporters that he will be seeking this winter. A reliever and a depth infielder it is!
Our friend Ryan from Jays Droppings bids goodbye to the rotten year that was 2017.
“Negative” Nick Ashbourne’s on the right track this time, I think, as he writes for Yahoo! Sports that free agency might not be so kind to one Joseph W. Bats.
Elsewhere at Yahoo!, Jeff Passan has a great, fascinating one on the rise and fall of John Coppoella, and the alleged improprieties the now-former Braves GM dabbled in on the international free agent market. (Jays-related note: if Kevin Maitan is declared a free agent because of this, which is possible, it would kinda be to Atlanta what it would be to the Jays if Vlad Jr. was made a free agent — which is to say: terrifying. Though, granted, their system doesn’t hinge quite so unquestionably on that one guy.)
Credit where it’s due: Darren O’Day may mostly be known to Jays for having so often been hilariously pwnd by José Bautista over the years (the actual number of times being like, once? twice? but who cares!), but he sure knows a kick-ass atmosphere when he sees it. Talking about last year’s Wild Card game, and the scene at Rogers Centre, he tells USA Today, “We expected them to be pretty rowdy and they didn’t disappoint. In hockey off-season, they cheer for baseball. It was nuts, absolute pandemonium. We go extras, they end up walking us off, but it was still an awesome game. If that was a pay-per-view game, you wouldn’t be disappointed.” He ain’t wrong.
Lastly, this is basically an evergreen tweet based on everything that’s going on in the States these days, but… yeah, Marcus Stroman gets it:
Canadian residency…need it. ?? Lol
— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) October 2, 2017