Great stuff from Blake Murphy at VICE Sports, as he writes a paean to Joey Votto, whose presence as an analyst he says we all need more of in our lives.
Bob Elliott wrote for the Canadian Baseball Network about a former Jays scout, Mike Pesce, who pushed for the club to move Astros star George Springer up its draft board, to no avail. I’m pretty sure the piece didn’t originally include the somewhat relevant fact that Springer was taken with the 11th pick and the Jays didn’t pick until 21st, though it does now. Without that note it sure seemed odd, though I guess the point was that most of the Jays scouts overlooked him, or downgraded him because he played in the northeast — which makes sense for an Elliott piece, given the obvious parallel to how Canadian players can get overlooked for similar reasons (shorter seasons, lack of quality competition). Interesting stuff from inside the draft room nonetheless. I dunno.
Jays From the Couch tries to make the case that the Jays shouldn’t shut the door on a reunion with José Bautista, which… uh… OK, sure… maybe? I was almost going to say here that I’d offer him an invite to camp, but is getting cut in March really how we want his Blue Jays career to end? Because as easily as one might justify keeping the door open by saying things like “it does seem like the numbers reflect a general bad luck season than true regression,” that doesn’t make it true. I’m all for holding out hope for a dead cat bounce from Bautista, but the statistical evidence over the last three seasons is pretty overwhelming. ISO from .285 to .217 to .164. Slugging percentage from .536 to .452 to .366. On-base from .377 to .366 to .308. wRC+ from 148 to 122 to 80. Contact rate from 80.9% to 80.2% to 73.3%. Swinging strike rate from 7.5% to 7.2% to 10.9%. Average exit velocity from 92.0 to 91.6 to 88.3. Percentage of balls with an exit velocity above 95 from 46.1% to 46.3% to 35.6%. Percentage of “barrels” per ball in play from 14.3% to 9.0% to 6.6%. Sadly, I just don’t see a way to see mere luck there.
Tom Koehler wants to sell Giancarlo Stanton on waiving his no-trade clause so he can come to Toronto? OK!
Ill try and sell him
— Tom Koehler (@TKREFRESH22) October 30, 2017
(Mike Wilner suggesting it’s the no-trade and not the opt-out, the enormous amount of money he’s owed, or the fact that other teams with wider current championship windows and more budget flexibility to handle the enormous amount of money, that makes a trade here unlikely? Okkkkkkkay.)
Speaking of Stanton, the Miami Herald reports that the Marlins’ preferred way to shed payroll this winter will be to trade Stanton, Dee Gordon, and Martin Prado. Over at the Blue Jay Hunter, Ian looks at whether two of those guys would be fits — and naturally they would, but they would in a lot of places, I think.
Great stuff, as always, from BP Toronto, as Richard Lee-Sam waxes about the Blue Jays’ next all-time great: Josh Donaldson.
Elsewhere at BP Toronto, the crew over there looks back at their favourite pieces from the 2017 season.
An odd one from Bluebird Banter, as Mark Colley talks to the recently drafted Kevin Smith, who is “building a brand” to help other ballplayers on the defensive side of the ball. It’s called Elevate Baseball, and Smith explains that “looking online, you can find a bunch of hitting content, from e-books to Twitter accounts to Instagram pages, but not so much with infield work, and that the “brand’s” vision “is to put out the most complete defensive information on the web.” Brand? I don’t think that’s quite what that means, but whatever.
NBC Sports Washington ranks the Jays’ logo as the best in MLB. Yay?
A pair of terrible ideas from Jays Journal: bringing back Andy Burns, and bringing back José Reyes. Gotta feed the content beast, I guess, but hard pass on even thinking about these ideas. (And I say that as having thought, at one point, about Eric Sogard!)
Similarly, Jays From the Couch looks at whether Jason Kipnis might be a fit for the Jays. (Back in September I, mostly jokingly, suggested him as something the Jays might get in return if the club looked to move Josh Donaldson to Cleveland this winter.) (Oh, hey, Jays Journal has one of these, too.)
Elsewhere at Jays Journal, we get a look at what feels like it could be a central question of the Jays’ offseason, and what we should hope is a central question of the off-season, but that might not actually be one: whether Ezequiel Carrera has a place on the team. You’d really hope that they can find a way to do better than Carrera and Steve Pearce in left field, or Carrera as their primary backup in centre. The problem, of course, is that the duo is at least fine enough. They’re also cheap enough. and probably not valuable enough in trade to bring back more than reliever types or Triple-A starters. Plus, there’s the matter of right field, which — unless you’re handing that spot to Teoscar Hernandez, who you’d rather let force his way onto the roster from Buffalo — is of a higher priority. There is absolutely a case for blowing up the position and trying to find someone who versatile enough to play everyday either there or at second base, but that’s not going to be an easy needle to thread, and there’s a decent chance of taking something that sorta-kinda worked and possibly making it worse. Pretty sure I’d take that risk, but that’s easy to say not knowing precisely what’s out there or, more importantly, for how much.
Perhaps the biggest star in the AFL All-Star game will be Ronald Acuña of the Braves. Eric Longenhagen mentioned him in his latest prospect chat at FanGraphs, in a question that acknowledged that some view Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as being a better prospect. While not addressing that, Longenhagen did give us this: he’s “a full grade below Trout and Harper right now, maybe a half beneath what I thought of Buxton and Lindor. But Acuna is right there with Bryant, Russell, Moncada, etc. for me.” If Vlad’s in that same ballpark, that’ll fuckin’ do. (Elsewhere in the chat Eric says that he thinks Guerrero will see the majors at some point this year, but no Bo Bichette.)
More prospect stuff as Future Jays looks back at Vlad’N’Bo, and some of the Jays’ other key prospects who spent time in the Florida State League this season.
Elsewhere at Future Jays, a look at the four Jays prospects who made Baseball America’s top 20 Northwest League prospects list.
Meanwhile, Clutchlings recently gave some updates on Jays minor leaguers in the AFL and playing winter ball abroad.
Back to FanGraphs, where we have a few items that aren’t Jays-related, but worth checking out: Dave Cameron on what to think of bullpenning and what we’ve learned in these playoffs and this World Series; Jeff Sullivan on a rather significant complication to the slicker ball theory; and the site is once again in the middle of crowdsourcing for what their readers think each of this winter’s free agents will get.
Lastly, also not Jays-related, but interesting if you’re into this kind of thing: Dean Steinman of 2080 Baseball takes a look at four potential impact prospects just taken in the NPB draft.