Kevin Seitzer Leaving The Blue Jays For Job With The Braves

seitzer

Add another opening to the Toronto Blue Jays coaching staff as Atlanta Braves beat writer Mark Bowman is reporting that Kevin Seitzer has joined the Braves coaching staff as their new hitting coach. This news comes after the news a few weeks ago that the Blue Jays were reassigning Bullpen coach Bob Stanley.

Seitzer came with much fanfare when he was hired last winter as the Blue Jays new hitting coach and when the Blue Jays were on that hot streak in May Seitzer seemed to get a ton of praise for the work he had done as the hitting coach.

As the season went along and things went south the lack of success of hitters such as Colby Rasmus and Ryan Goins made some wonder if maybe all the praise that was heaped on Seitzer in May was just a bit much.

It does raise the question of just how much does a hitting coach affect a team. I don’t think it really does the Blue Jays offence hasn’t been the issue the last few years despite now looking for their fourth hitting coach in as many seasons. In reality much of it has to do with the players willingness to succeed as a hitter. A hitting coach no matter how good can’t turn every hitter into a great hitter, and this year it showed with Goins and Rasmus although some of Rasmus’ struggles were do to teams shifting on him.

When Seitzer signed he did so on a one year deal and Alex Anthopoulos confirmed to John Lott that the reason Seitzer is leaving is that they couldn’t work out a deal for next year.

Not exactly the best omen for the start of the off-season.

What The Postseason Has Taught Us

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

For starters my preseason picks did not have either the Kansas City Royals or the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. For the record I had Tampa Bay defeating Washington for the World Series, I did however have both the Royals and the Giants making the playoffs, the Giants as a wildcard team and the Royals winning the AL Central.

What I think has really stuck out to me the last couple of postseasons is how teams can overcome bad in-game management to win. Last year it was John Farrell who made some, well, lets just say interesting managerial moves along the way to winning the World Series. How many of us had Kansas City managed Ned Yost tarred and feathered in the sixth inning of the Wild Card game after Yost lifted James Shields in favour of Yordano Ventura?, who hadn’t pitched out of the pen all season and had thrown 74 pitches only two days earlier. Ventura blew the lead when he gave up a three run homer to Oakland’s Brendan Moss. Funny thing happened though, the Royals came back to win the game in extra innings and have run the table to get to the World Series. The other thing in Yost’s favour is that he does have a shutdown bullpen and if they are winning after six innings victory seems almost automatic.

This postseason has also taught us that winning your division, which is a great accomplishment, doesn’t mean squat in October. The Royals swept both the Los Angeles Angels and the Baltimore Orioles who both were division winners. San Francisco path has been somewhat similar although they had to win the Wild Card game on the road, and then would go on to defeat Washington and St.Louis and take advantage of some managerial gaffs along the way.

This season has also shown that if you can just make it in that anything can happen. The Royals sat two games under 500 in late July and then with some thanks to the Tigers collapsing down the stretch actually led the AL Central in mid September before finally losing the division on the final day of the regular season. It has also shown that you can’t predict how the postseason will play out. The Royals hit the least amount of home runs in the AL this season but used the long ball in a big way to win the division series and the first two games of the LCS.

The old saying goes that pitching and defence win’s in October but after this season I think it’s also safe to say that just make it in and anything can happen.

The Royals are proof of that.

The Friday Notebook

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays’ have found their fall guy for yet another disappointing season by letting go of Bullpen coach Bob Stanley. I’m not quite sure how Stanley could be faulted for the bullpen’s struggles. It was Sergio Santos, Steve Delabar, Dustin McGowan and Casey Janssen after the All-Star break, out on the mound pitching poorly. The pen in 2013 was pretty damn impressive but it had to be expected that they would have a little regression, but not quite to the point it did get. In reality it is Pete Walker that does most of the work with these guys, Stanley main job is answering the bullpen phone and opening the bullpen door. But it seems someone must take the fall for under-performance and like Chad Mattola getting let go after Bob Stanley getting the axe just seems like an over reaction.

As for Stanley’s replacement, it could very well be Pat Hentgen who held the job in 2013 and took a leave of absence in 2014 however Mike Wilner tweeted that he doesn’t believe that Hentgen is quite ready to come back. In a perfect world I think Hentgen would make a wonderful pitching coach but that’s just me. Another candidate could be Duane Ward who has spent the last few years working as an instructor for the Blue Jays Instructional Camps and is a guy I could really see striving in a role like that. Although Shi Davidi is reporting that the leading candidates are pitching co-ordinator Dane Johnson, pitching rehab and roving instructor Rick Langford and current Bisons pitching coach Randy St.Claire.

MLB Trade Rumours had an interesting piece on the Blue Jays and their situation as it pertains to payroll and who is under contract, arbitration eligible and players that have options. After reading the piece maybe Paul Beeston wasn’t lying about payroll going up although he may not have been completely truthful on how it goes up.
The Blue Jays have eight guaranteed contracts going into next season, including Ricky Romero who is scheduled to make 7.5 million to most likely pitch in Buffalo next season. They project that the arbitration eligible players would add roughly 11.6 million to the 96.2 million already committed to the eight guaranteed contracts, although they could save an estimated 2.2 million if they non tender Juan Francisco. Non tendering Francisco does seem likely.

That’s not even getting into the player options of which Adam Lind, J.A Happ and Josh Thole’s are likely to get picked up and Dustin McGowan could be back for a cheaper price if his option is declined, nor does it include any free agent signings or resigning Melky which isn’t going to come cheap. So it very well could be that the payroll goes up but don’t expect a huge list of new faces come Spring other than the ones in-house.

Shi Davidi also is reporting that Demarlo Hale interviewed for the Minnesota Twins open managerial spot, so perhaps there could be two openings on the coaching staff. Hale last year interviewed for the Nationals managerial opening which eventually went to Matt Williams.

Calling All Baseball Coaches

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The Toronto Blue Jays and Baseball Canada are hosting their third annual coaching clinic at the Rogers Centre January 9-11 2015.

The clinic is open to coaches all across Canada including beginners looking to get there foot in the door. Coaches that attend this clinic will get three PD points towards their national certification. Baseball Canada will also be hosting a clinic on Friday January 9th, Coaches that partake in the afternoon session will receive 5 points for each module they are a part of the modules will include Baserunning, hitting, outfield or infield. They`re also offering the NCCP Baseball initiation workshop for beginner coaches.

Instructors that have signed on for the weekend include, Blue Jays first base coach Tim Leiper, Jays third base coach Luis Perez, Sandy Alomar, Pat Tabler, Homer Bush, Lloyd Moseby, Stubby Clapp, Clayton McCullough, New Hampshire Fishercats pitching coach Jim Czajkowski, current Blue Jay hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, Duane Ward, Brian McRae and Devon White.

The clinic includes a coaches social on the Friday night where coaches will have a chance to mingle with former Blue Jay players also included is a tour of the Blue Jays clubhouse which is interesting and it also includes a chance to take part in batting practice and shagging flyballs on the field.

I took part in last years clinic and it was an incredible experience to learn from the greats and a chance to talk baseball. You can read about my experience here

The cost of the weekend is $160, which after taxes works out to 180. For more info on the clinic visit http://www.bluejays.com and click on Baseball Academy.

Here is a video from the Blue Jays website on the clinic held in January.

Davidi’s Point On Team Chemistry Is Just Overkill

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Shi Davidi wrote an interesting piece on what happened to the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays yesterday and while he mentioned the lack of trust between ownership and the players played a big part of the issue he also brought up the whole chemistry issue which in the last few years has been overdone and isn’t necessarily completely legit in my opinion.

Sure chemistry is like that low hanging fruit to go after when things go downhill but it’s quite interesting that no one brought it up when things where going well in May and early June. It’s been said that winning cures a lot of issues and chemistry can be lumped into that as well as far as I’m concerned. How many winning teams do you hear about having issues with chemistry? The answer is none. It’s a crutch reserved for teams trying to explain why a season didn’t go well and the baseball media in Toronto have done a fine job the last few years of dragging the point to death.

Where Davidi hit’s the nail on the head however is with the distrust that formed between ownership, management and the players. In fact to me the most damning piece in the article might have been where Davidi talks of a meeting in which Beeston hosted a pre season dinner and as one person tells Davidi the message was if they got to June and were in it the money would be there.

Whether or not the money was there or not is something only ownership knows but the fact that nothing was done at the deadline didn’t help the trust factor with the team. It also didn’t help within the clubhouse that Alex Anthopoulos waited until Aug 5th to talk to the team instead of talking to the team on July 31st.

Davidi also brings up how the Jays could have made a move for Martin Prado at the deadline and it wouldn’t have cost the Jays much to get it done. Here is a thing to think about though with Prado who is owed 27 million over the next two seasons. Perhaps AA looked at what Prado is owed the next two years and then looked at his payroll budget and the uncertainties surrounding that considering that the Blue Jays want to make a serious pitch to re-sign Melky Cabrera and figures that financially it just didn’t make sense.

Having said all that, the biggest thing that it shows is that Rogers dropped the ball by tying AA’s hands last winter when it came to payroll. If your serious about winning you don’t increase the payroll as much as they did in 2012 and then not give any room to add in 2014 and then you add the Ervin Santana deferral into the mix and it just looks awful. As it’s been mentioned elsewhere if ownership had been on the ball then Santana is most likely signed before the Braves ever lose Kris Medlan and giving Santana a reason to go elsewhere.

Like I said in the beginning Davidi did bring up the chemistry issue but to me the failure of 2014 is on ownership who watched the injuries happen this year and sat idly by while AA picked players off the scrap heap and was forced to put below replacement level players in the line-up and if the Blue Jays want to contend in 2015 they need more depth on the bench than what they had in 2014.

The Monday Night Notebook

Courtesy Marcus Stroman/twitter

Courtesy Marcus Stroman/twitter

You know it’s a slow news day in Blue Jay land when Marcus Stroman switching numbers becomes the biggest news of the day, well, only news of the day. Stroman announced on twitter that in honour of his grandmother’s birthday his number would change to 6 for next season. It’s a good thing I held off on buying a Stroman jersey this season because it would suck to have bought one and see him change the number after the fact. The last Blue Jay to wear the number 6 was Jeff Mathis when he was here in 2012. The most famous Blue Jay to wear the number 6 is Carlos Delgado who wore it from 1993 till 95 before wearing 21 in 1996 and then settling on 25 from 1997 till he left after the 2004 season. Stroman would also become only the third Blue Jay pitcher to ever wear a single digit number. Josh Towers was the first as he wore number 7 when he was a Blue Jay and Kyle Drabek who has spent parts of four season’s with the Blue Jays wears number 4.

BLUE JAYS LOOKING FOR INTERNS
The Blue Jays are looking to add two interns to their front office.
The first position is a Baseball Operations Analytics Intern and as posted on Rogers’ site the responsibilities and requirements are as such.

RESPONSIBILITIES (may include, but not limited to):

Assist the Baseball Operations department with projects as directed.
Staying current on publically available baseball research.
Maintain critical scouting/statistical databases and monitoring the import of data feeds.
Assist with the preparation for the Rule 4 Draft.
Provide support for Baseball Operations meetings and player transaction decisions.
Support Minor League Operations/Player Development with their daily operations.
Contribute to analysis of Major and Minor League Players.
Assist with the testing of Baseball Operations software systems.
QUALIFICATIONS:

Strong baseball knowledge.
Proficient in Microsoft Office (Excel, PowerPoint, Word).
Experience using SQL or statistical software.
Familiar with current baseball research and analytics.
Professional attitude and work ethic with strong interpersonal skills.
Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is a plus.
Demonstrated analytic skills and knowledge of a scripting language are a plus
Baseball playing or scouting experience are a plus.
Previous work with professional or local sports organization is a plus.

The second posting on Rogers’ website is for a Baseball Operations Scouting Intern they list the qualifications and responsibilities as such.

RESPONSIBILITIES (may include, but not limited to):

Assist the Baseball Operations department with projects as directed.
Maintain critical baseball operations ranking boards and scouting/statistical databases.
Assist with the preparation for the Rule 4 Draft.
Provide support for Baseball Operations meetings and player transaction decisions.
Support Minor League Operations/Player Development with their daily operations.
Contribute to analysis of Major and Minor League Players.
Assist with the testing of Baseball Operations software systems.
QUALIFICATIONS:

Strong baseball knowledge.
Proficient in Microsoft Office (Excel, PowerPoint, Word).
Professional attitude and work ethic with strong interpersonal skills.
Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field a plus.
Baseball playing or scouting experience a plus.
Experience with baseball specific systems (BATS, eBIS, PIA, etc) a plus.
Experience using SQL or statistical software a plus.
Previous work with professional or local sports organization a plus.

Both positions are listed as a 10 month contract position, they do not post the pay or the amount of hours but some digging around on various site it’s rumoured to be 35 hours a week with a salary of 12.75 an hour. If you want your start in a Baseball front office here is your chance. All the info you need to apply for these positions can be found here:

Analytics Intern

Scouting Intern

George Kottaras Outrighted

kottaras

The Blue Jays have outrighted catcher George Kottaras off the 40 man roster and like Dan Johnson earlier in the week has opted for Free Agency per a team release.

Kottaras was signed as a Free Agent by the Blue Jays in August after having spent time in Cleveland and St.Louis prior to signing with the Jays.

Kottaras didn’t make an appearance with the Blue Jays until September and only appeared in three games as a Blue Jay and was held hitless in four at bats.

It also means that yet again the Jays plan on sticking with Josh Thole as R.A Dickey’s personal catcher. There was some hope that with Kottaras’ past experience catching knuckleballer Tim Wakefield during his time in Boston that the Blue Jays might stick with him and give him a chance to compete for the back-up catchers job next Spring. Andrew Stoeten at DJF was bang on about why it’s most likely a mistake that they are letting Kottaras’ walk, and like him I also don’t like the idea of using a roster spot for a guy that is nothing more than a personal catcher.

Then there is also this that could also be in the Blue Jays plans although I highly doubt it.

I guess as always time will tell.

Beeston Speaks

Canadian Press

Canadian Press

Blue Jays president Paul Beeston was on Jeff Blair’s show on the FAN 590 Friday morning where he talked about everything from Alex Anthopoulos, John Gibbons, attendance, payroll, grass at the Dome and even his own future with the ball club, and to state that winning a World Series is still the main goal.

Beeston started by saying that he will remain with the Blue Jays until Rogers no longer wants him around and he didn’t actually say when his deal runs out with the Blue Jays but he did say that he dislikes contracts. At the same time he also said that AA would be back in 2015 which isn’t a big surprise considering it was reported in August that sources were saying he would be back.

When it came to payroll Beeston did say that it would be going up in 2015 and reiterated his point that Rogers has never turned them down for payroll requests, not that I believe that or much of what comes out of Beeston’s mouth, so take it for what it’s worth. He did mention that if AA wants to go after a Free Agent like John Lester or David Price down the road the money would be there if they so choose to pursue it. Beeston did bring up the five-year policy again, so chances are that they will take themselves out of the market of some of the available Free Agents. When asked about Melky Cabrera, Beeston says that he would love to have him back in 2015 and when asked why an extension wasn’t done during the season Beeston says that a question that only AA can answer.

Blair asked about attendance at the games and with the TV ratings and radio ratings up why did attendance go down this year. Beeston said that he’s not worried about the attendance and that he is quite happy that the Blue Jays are bringing in the younger crowds and the amount of kids that are at the games this year.

When asked about grass going into the Rogers Centre Beeston is adamant that it can happen in 2018 although they have their work cut out for them as they have to be able to have air currents that can reach the field level to keep the grass from dying so they would have to have fans installed like they have installed at Miller Park in Milwaukee, who went through some issues while trying to grow grass.

John Gibbons was mentioned when asked about his comments earlier in the week about the clubhouse needing a change, but was also mentioned that he would be back, which we also already knew. I think the whole clubhouse thing is much to do about nothing, if the team is winning everyone gets along great. It’s not a surprise to hear this kind of stuff when the team doesn’t do as well as they would like too.

Blue Jays’ Outright Munenori Kawasaki and Dan Johnson

kawasaki

That didn’t take long but according to MLB Trade Rumors the Blue Jays have out righted Munenori Kawasaki and Dan Johnson to the Buffalo Bisons and off of the Blue Jays 40 man roster.

Kawasaki who was in his second season as a Blue Jay hit .258/.327/.296 in 274 plate appearances and had a 0.7 WAR according to Baseball Reference. Kawasaki who became a fan favourite despite not having the most talent in the world spent much of this season splitting time at second and third base. Kawasaki signed a one year deal last off-season and will be a Free Agent this winter. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has said that he is hopeful that Kawasaki will come back next season.

Johnson also signed a one year deal last off-season and played most of the year in Buffalo. Johnson did get some time with the Blue Jays after Adam Lind’s injury in July but also landed on the DL after the All-Star Break. Johnson hit .211/.333/.342 in 48 plate appearances and had a WAR of -0.2. Johnson will also be a Free Agent this winter and if he is back he would again be a depth guy in Buffalo

The Late Thursday Night Notebook

RAY STUBBLEBINE / REUTERS File

RAY STUBBLEBINE / REUTERS File

A congratulation is in order for Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle who on Wednesday night surpassed Cy Young as the only pitcher to pitch 200 innings or more and allow less than 61 walks in a season for the 14th straight year. The 200 inning mark for fourteen years is impressive in its own right but the 61 or fewer walks is amazing, that works out to less than two walks a start. Speaking of Buehrle his start on Wednesday kind of echoed his first start of the season in Tampa. Overall this year Buehrle was pretty impressive for a guy who throws in the mid eighties he has an excellent first two months and had some struggles in from June on, he also didn’t get much run support either.

With a year left on Buehrle’s deal and due to pay him 19 million it has left a lot of people wondering if the Blue Jays should deal him. First off unless the Jays are willing to eat a lot of that 19 million Buehrle isn’t going anywhere and secondly and this is where my thoughts are on the situation, 200 inning pitchers are not as easy to come by as some would think and with the youth movement coming up next year in the starting rotation having a pair of guys that can pitch 200 innings wouldn’t be the worst thing to have on the roster.

NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS
The geniuses at Sportsnet decided to ruin every Blue Jays fans hope for a Broadcast team on the TV side by announcing that they’ve extended the contracts of both Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler for FIVE more years. Buck Martinez would be better served as an analyst and not a play-by-play guy and Tabler, well if you like hearing phrases like “big and strong” then he’s the guy for you. Don’t get me wrong Tabby is a nice guy but an analyst might be a bit much. Hell, lets wheel the Brinks truck up to Dan Schulman and see if they could somehow lure him back to Canada and away from ESPN. It’s highly unlikely but it’s worth a shot, anything has to be better than five more years of Pat and Buck talk lovingly about all things but the Blue Jays on the TV broadcasts.

THE END IS NEAR
With the final weekend upon us, it most likely the end of Colby Rasmus, Brandon Morrow, Casey Janssen and Munenori Kawasaki as Blue Jays. Rasmus’ time as a Jay was well tumultuous at best, sure he was great in Centre Field it’s just that his lack of hitting over his time as a Jay, 2013 not included, was, well lets just say frustrating. Morrow’s time in Toronto could be summed up as what could have been, he came in with a ton of potential and did show flashes of what could be but in the end the injuries were what derailed his career as a Blue Jay and with a 10 million dollar option I can’t imagine that the Blue Jays would pick up that option. Casey Janssen’s tenure as a Blue Jays was pretty impressive with the exception of the second half this year, when he was thrust into the closers role in 2012 he was money when it came to closing games and followed that up in 2013 and the first half of this season. I am hopeful that Janssen is remembered for his succesful run as a closer and not the last two months when he looked like a shell of his former self. Munenori Kawasaki’s time in Toronto could very well be remembered for his ” I AM JAPANESE” post game address on Sportsnet after a walk-off win over Baltimore, but really for a guy who didn’t have the most talent in the world his hustle and personality won the fans over and was quickly a fan favorite. With Maicer Izturis back next year and with Ryan Goins most likely back at second it seems like there will be no room left at the inn for Kawasaki.

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