Daily Duce: Thursday, October 26th


Future Blue Jays, formerly Clutchlings, had the opportunity to visit with Mark Shapiro in the Jays’ offices recently, for what was ostensibly going to be a conversation about the club’s minor league system, but that ended up being wide-ranging, and rather interesting. Case in point, it’s noted that Shapiro says the Rogers Centre renovations are still “‘the design phase,’ but the actual implementation of any upgrades is, ‘up to Rogers – where it fits in the hierarchy of their capital needs.'” Hmmm — though Shapiro adds that “in fairness to our owners, we’re the only team that’s asked to do it without any public subsidies.” Later, on the subject of the recent rumblings about Rogers potentially selling the club, we’re told that “inferring from his body language and comments about dealing with the folks at 333 Bloor St East, that might be a welcome development for Shapiro.” Double hmmmm. The piece also touches on Rogers Centre grass (low priority), fired Canadians (Shapiro “says hiring and developing local talent at all levels of the organization is a priority”), minor leaguers, Shohei Otani (Shapiro “admitted that he wasn’t sure if Toronto was a good fit for a Japanese player”), and more. Definitely give this one a read.

Interesting stuff from Jays From the Couch, who also spoke to Shapiro recently (note to self: what the hell is going on here?), and have a post up specifically about the club president’s thoughts on the changing nature of the media, and how that relates to the recent changes the club made in their PR department. Interesting stuff! Especially the comments from Shapiro that, while fairly mild, sure feel like they might be a shot in the direction of the sorts of folks you’ll see featured around here in my Dumbing Down the Discourse pieces. “Criticism is part of it, so that doesn’t bother me at all, so it’s not who doesn’t criticize and who does,” he said. “To me, it’s who takes the time to be accountable enough to understand what happened in a decision in the past and what goes into a decision moving forward instead of knee jerk reaction and commentary without any accountability from comment to comment.” Triple hmmmm…

Great stuff, as always, from BP Toronto, as Mike Passador looks at which disappointing 2017 Jays are poised to bounce back, while Andrew Munn looks at the most exciting* Blue Jays wins of 2017.

Marcus Stroman has been named one of the three finalists for an AL Gold Glove, and it turns out he wants this one!:

Jays Journal looks at whether Eric Sogard might be a fit for the 2018 Jays, and whether the Jays can steal a bunch of Padres to fill all their offseason needs in one swoop. They also offer a take on Gregg Zaun stuff that is… not my favourite. As I said in my own piece on it this week, criticizing someone’s play I’m OK with, but that’s not what we’re talking about here — certainly not Zaun’s rant about Stroman’s behaviour in that game against Anaheim earlier this year. To not note the distinction and then say Zaun’s just telling it like it is? Yeah, no.

Speaking of that stuff, Jays Droppings looks at a local writer’s now predictable beef with Stroman.

Wayne Cavadi of Minor League Ball has an intriguing one on “three Toronto Blue Jays prospects you need to know,” which gives us some nice words on a trio beyond the usual suspects: Danny Jansen, Conner Greene, and Thomas Pannone. The Pannone stuff was especially encouraging, as Cavadi says that he didn’t know much about him until midway through this season, but that “he quickly became one of my favourite under-the-radar pitching prospects in the game.” He adds that “Pannone has all the makings of a back-end of the rotation big league pitcher. He can toss innings, he has confidence to throw his average stuff for strikes, and he seems to have that winning mentality. Pannone is aware of his stuff and won’t try to overpower opponents, but uses deception and break to get them chasing. It will be interesting to see how he handles the International League, but he could be Toronto bound late next year.” That’ll do.

More prospect stuff, as Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline looks at the Jays’ 2016 first rounder, TJ Zeuch, who is pitching well so far in the Arizona Fall League. Meanwhile, Laura Armstrong of the Toronto Star tells us about the latest piece of hardware picked up by Bo Bichette, as he’s been voted by MiLB as offensive player of the year in minor league baseball.

Blue Jays From Away provides us with the goods on the small Jays contingent headed to Australia to play in the ABL this year — including non-non-prospect Connor Pañas.

Meanwhile, Jays Prospects talks to lefty reliever Tim Mayza, who is looking to build off a strong 2017 season.

Shi Davidi tweets that longtime Jays coach Brian Butterfield, who moved to Boston in 2013 with “fired John Farrell” (as Shi’s tweet calls him — not as a nickname, of course, though it has a nice ring to it!), has moved on from Boston himself and joined the Cubs. Good for Butter!

More firing-related tweets, this time from Ian O’Connor of ESPN, who has some insight into the Yankees’ somewhat surprising firing of manager Joe Girardi on Thursday, telling us that “the Yankees have long been frustrated with Joe Girardi’s failure to apply a more human touch to the job. Hurt him a lot.” And that “Girardi’s relationship with his players, though not entirely broken, was not what his bosses hoped it would be.”

Speaking of Girardi, Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic wrote on Wednesday night about his tenuous grip on the manager’s chair in the Bronx. Prescient stuff, it turns out.

Ask our pal Drew who should take over for Girardi and he’ll give you but one name: A-Rod. The maligned generational talent-turned Fox MLB pundit was outstandingly profiled this week by Katie Baker of the Ringer. In Rod We Trust.

At USA Today, Bob Nightengale wonders whether the Yankees can actually do better than the man the just let go.

MLBTR notes that, among five players outrighted by the Mets this week was Wuilmer Becerra, who came to the organization from the Jays as the little-known third piece in the R.A. Dickey trade. Guess the Jays won that one after all!

Another MLBTR piece notes that Drew Hutchison is among players who have elected free agency so far this offseason after being outrighted off of their club’s 40-man roster. Among other pieces of Jays-related pitching depth out there: Mike Bolsinger and Asher Wojciechowski.

South of the Six reviews what we learned about the Blue Jays, and what they need to do going forward, in 2017.

Lastly, all sorts of stuff has been out there lately about the Blue Jays’ 1992 World Series win, which this week marked the 25th anniversary of, including Matt English’s outstanding @RealTime93Jays Twitter feed, which I wrote about earlier in the week. Nick Faris of the National Post spoke to Matt about the project this week as well. Meanwhile, Shi Davidi passed along a bunch of ’92 content this week at Sportsnet, including a YouTube clip of the entirety of Game Six. Awesomeness! And our friend the Tao of Stieb writes about how the Jays’ 1992 victory transformed the Blue Jays and their fans.

  • Regulator Johnson

    I don’t think it’s altogether reasonable to state that Toronto would not be a good fit for a Japanese player. Although the counting methods may be different, the estimate of 20,000 Japanese Canadians living in Toronto would place the city 5th among MLB markets. Admittedly that means that there are 7 teams ahead of Toronto by this metric, I hardly think merits Shapiro’s description.

    I don’t mean to exclusively blame Shapiro for this attitude either. The sense of fatalism and inferiority seems to be consistent across management groups, with Toronto always assuming that they are unlikely to be seriously considered by Free Agents both foreign and domestic. In a world where Darvish signed in TEXAS and players like Robinson Cano gladly leave New York for Seattle, the Blue Jays would be well served to at least stop acting as though they are the Tampa Bay Rays, whether or not they actually intend to sign anyone.

    This kind of statement can, at best, help nothing and, at worst, become self-fulfilling; players are more aware of perceptions than they are often given credit for.

    • Barry

      This is a fair criticism; this sort of musing aloud is so candid and, in my opinion, ill-advised, that I wonder if there was a portion of the interview in which Shapiro thought he was speaking off the record. (After all, the conversation was supposed to about the minor-league system and ended up covering a fair bit outside of that.)

      Now, the comment is not a direct quote, so I’d be curious to see his exact phrasing and the context in which the comment was made. (The writer was under the impression that specific other cities might have an edge with Japanese ballplayers, so perhaps Shapiro wasn’t being quite as broad as we fear.)

    • Teddy Ballgame

      Hard to know what he meant out of context. It could be simply that a Japanese player with his full druthers would choose to play closer to home on the West Coast…

    • Jeff2sayshi

      Darvish’s situation was he could negotiate ONLY with the highest bidder, which was Texas. Cano left NY for more money from Seattle. With Otani, unless a team isn’t will to post the 20M fee to the Japanese team (which likely isn’t the hold up for the Jays) Otani can choose ANY team that is willing to negotiate at that point. And because his salary will be suppressed due to International Free Agent rules money is NOT going to be the factor that makes him choose.

      • Teddy Ballgame

        I think that’s it, Jeff. Ichiro, Darvish and Tanaka all came to MLB via the posting system, so they didn’t have full choice of what team to play for. Otani is a free agent, albeit with a cap on his earnings due to the IFA limits. Since money will be less of a factor, it’s going to come down to where he wants to play. And if proximity to Japan or being close to contending are the determining factors, the Jays aren’t going to be on pole position.

  • The Humungus

    Bad news: Sogard resigned with the Brewers this afternoon.

    On Stroman, he was 11th among starters in DRS (5), but he led the league in double plays started (6) and only made 1 error (a fielding error, not a throwing error) while finishing 3rd in assists (37). He was much more involved as a defender than the other two as well. And he allowed fewer SBs than Cobb and the same number as Sale.

    He could win it!

  • Barry

    Wait, I can spin the Otani thing …

    Otani plays for the Nippon Ham Fighters, who play in the Sapporo Dome … Artificial turf. In fact, of the twelve JBL stadiums, all but two have artificial turf.

    For Otani, baseball’s natural playing surface is artificial turf. Surely he’d be uncomfortable switching to that nasty grass shit, right?

    It’s us vs. the Rays!

    Sorry, that’s the best I can do.