With the Blue Jays exhibition games against the New York Mets March 28-29th in Montreal a few weeks away, Jon Paul Morosi tweeted out some news on some of the activities planned for the two games.
Jays-Mets series in Montreal will have two major pregame tributes: Gary Carter on 3/28, 1994 Expos (including Pedro Martinez) on 3/29.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 11, 2014
That news in itself is pretty cool, although I’m not sure how some bitter Expos fans will take it, look at it as a sign of goodwill from the only Canadian team left in Major League Baseball. And lets not forget the fan support for the Expos was there up until the strike year of 1994. Expos fans took the strike as a slap in the face, as the Expos were the best team in Baseball in ’94 and many fans in Montreal believed that they had their World Series Stolen from them. But for a lot of Expos fans seeing Gary Carter and the 1994 team being honoured should bring back a lot of memories from the Expo glory days, It is a shame with the talent that they had that they never did win a World Series, or make more playoff appearances than they had.
Morosi then tweets out one of the worst thought of ideas ever.
Question for Montreal and Toronto fans: Should the Blue Jays wear Expos throwbacks during that series in Montreal?
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 11, 2014
It’s a bad idea in so many ways. I get it if it were the Nationals that were playing an exhibition game in Montreal, but another Franchise that has never called Montreal home–that would be more of a slap in the face than anything. Morosi’s next tweet summed up the response that most would have of his idea.
Near-universal response: Neither Montreal nor Toronto fans like the idea of Jays wearing Expos throwbacks. So that is that.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 11, 2014
As for attendance for the two-game set in Montreal, Morosi tweets on tickets that have been sold already for the series
In Montreal, 70,000+ combined tickets sold for the two Blue Jays-Mets games at Stade Olympique this month, according to @evenko.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 11, 2014
Olympic Stadium has a capacity of 45,000 seats, which means that roughly 20,000 seats are available and one would think that there are lots of Blue Jay fans from Quebec and Eastern Canada that would make the trip to see the Blue Jays that other wise wouldn’t make a trip to Toronto to see a game, regardless of the games being an exhibition game.
Tickets for the Blue Jays-Mets series range from 22 dollars to 89 dollars.
BLUE JAYS, CANADIAN JR TEAM FACE OFF IN EXHIBITION GAME
The game wasn’t competitive like one would expect, but to the kids on the Canadian Junior team it was a chance of a lifetime for them to play on the same field as the pros they watch on television. Canadian coach Greg Hamilton told MLB.com Gregor Chisolm , “Every player that we’ve got has a chance to play beyond high school. At minimum, they’re going to go on scholarships and play collegiate baseball. You never know. You extend your playing career and you figure a few things out and there are some here today you think will be for sure potential Major League prospects, and there are others who will sneak up on you, too, just by having the opportunity to continue to play.”
Jose Bautista had an informal chat with the Juniors in the morning, and they had a chance to shag fly balls while the Blue Jays held batting practise.
Jay Blue from Blue Jays from Away has announced the launch party for their new book, which is the first of its kind for Blue Jay fans, The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook.
The book is an e-book, which is being distributed by smashwords.com and will be available on Amazon, Kobo and iBooks for pre-order, the pre-order date has not been announced yet but stay tuned to Blue Jays From Away for more details. However, the book will be available online on March 31st and will cost $7.99
Blue did announce that they will be having a book launch on Wednesday, April 2 starting at 7pm at Tallboys Craft Beer House 838 Bloor St. West, in Toronto. They will have trivia and giveaways and everyone that attends will be eligible for a coupon for two dollars off the price of the book.
Blue describes the book as:
The first of it’s kind, the 2014 Handbook examines the entire Toronto Blue Jays’ minor league system in the most detail that it has ever been covered.
Histories and profiles of all seven North American Blue Jays affiliates including the Buffalo Bisons, New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Dunedin Blue Jays, Lansing Lugnuts, Vancouver Canadians, Bluefield Blue Jays and Gulf Coast League Blue Jays
Over 250 player profiles including every player anticipated to play in the Blue Jays’ minor league system in 2014
A new essay by current Blue Jays minor league pitcher, John Anderson, a member of the 2013 Dunedin Blue Jays
Ticket, travel and city information to help you plan any trips to see the Baby Jays play
Complete 2014 minor league schedules
Broadcast information to help you follow along with the teams and players from wherever you are
Minor league depth charts
A 2013 draft review
A new foreword by Toronto Sun baseball writer Bob Elliott
There will also be an “All-Star Break” supplement coming in July for only $1.99 that will highlight:
Up-to-date minor league rosters
2014 draft summary
Promotions and demotions
July 2 International Free Agents
Sounds like a good investment for any Blue Jays fan, I wish Blue and the gang at Blue Jays From Far away the best of luck with the book!
Ken Rosenthal’s piece on Fox Sports about the latest on the Ervin Santana decision-to-be had an interesting little tidbit in it.
Turns out Sanatana’s buddies on the Jays sent a text to Santana, it had them holding a poster saying “Come to Toronto” on it. The Blue Jays have six Dominican players on their projected 25 man roster.
Jose Bautista also openly was campaigning for Santana telling Fox Sports Jon Paul Morosi on Saturday, “It’s not the same players: We’re missing Josh Johnson, who was supposed to be a big key to our rotation, One-fifth of your rotation shouldn’t be overlooked. That’s important. That’s why it’s so important that we add (Santana).”
The desire is there within the team to sign Santana, the fan base wants it to happen, now it’s up to Alex Anthopoulos and Rogers to make it happen.
As for the current roster, Sportsnet The Fan 590 host Jeff Blair said on his show this morning that he is under the impression in talking to John Gibbons that Drew Hutchison would have to pitch his way off of the team not to make it, so it sounds like we know who will be the Jays fifth starter is. Good for Hutch, he has pitched very well this spring and indeed deserves the spot in the rotation. It doesn’t hurt that the Jays have stated that Hutch doesn’t have any innings limit this season.
Ryan Goins went 0 for 4 in Sunday’s 4-3 loss to Houston and is hitting .200 for the Spring, as much as his defence wowed people at the end of last season, it is now once again calling for the Jays to upgrade at second with Stephen Drew still available, and the longer Goins struggles to hit then the calls will get louder, how much the Jays can continue without an upgrade at second base is anyone’s guess, but chances of competing the AL East will be slim.
As of Sunday Morning everyone is still waiting for free agent pitcher Ervin Santana to decide if he will take the Jays reported offer of one-year for 14 million, or the offer from Baltimore which is reported at one-year at 13 million dollars but there are supposedly incentives involved with the Orioles offer.
If Santana does sign with the Jays, which according to some sources Saturday night that Santana could take Days” it wouldn’t necessarily be the doom and gloom that some Jays fans have said that it would bring. It’s only going to be a one year deal and even though there is risk there, it’s not as risky for the Blue Jays as would a multi-year deal would be. So even if Santana’s health were not to hold up the Jays would be out from under the deal at year’s end. The Jays could even recoup that second round pick they would stand to lose if Santana signs here by at least offering him a qualifying next winter.
Signing Santana would also help the Jays long-term even if he only signs a one year deal, The Jays would add another arm to their pitching depth and the Jays wouldn’t have to rush Marcus Stroman to the big leagues, I know that Alex Anthopoulos has said all Spring that Stroman is major league ready but a year in Buffalo wouldn’t hurt either. Let Stroman dominate in Triple A and call him up in September, it would also delay the Jays having to start his service time, which wouldn’t be such a bad thing either.
Santana is also a guy that is going to give the Jays 200 innings, which is the Jays biggest need, another starter that can give them innings and not burn up the bullpen. Lets face it, once you get past R.A Dickey and Mark Buehrle the rotation is a crapshoot. Brandon Morrow has never survived a season without landing on the Disabled list, Drew Hutchison has looked great this spring but is still coming off of Tommy John Surgery and you don’t exactly know what you’ll get and J.A Happ has been inconsistent and is now suffering through a back injury this spring and has been temporarily shut down for the time being.
A few weeks ago the idea of Santana signing a four-year deal would have seemed risky with him being a fly ball pitcher playing half of his games at the Rogers Centre, which has become the American League’s version of Coors Field, but now that Santana only wants a one-year deal it’s a smart move that would serve the Jays future well.
And in reality there is no such thing as a bad one-year deal. So come on AA let’s get this done.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos held a scrum with the media it’s documented by the Toronto Sun’s Ken Fidlin and talked about how Spring Training has gone so far and some of the players with an inside track on a roster spot when the Jays start the season on March 31st in Tampa.
When asked about Drew Hutchison AA says that he is surprised by the velocity that Hutch has shown this Spring, “We saw that velocity at the end of his time in 2012 before he got hurt. When I went to the Arizona Fall League, it was so encouraging to see him pitch that way. He really started to come into his own in 2012 before he got hurt so I’m not surprised. I think I said it before, he’s a guy I expected to really impress. He’s off to a great start, he’s definitely opened some eyes, he’s a strong candidate to make the rotation but he’s got to make it. But I love what I see.” says Anthopoulos. AA compared Hutch’s situation to that of Shaun Marcum the year he came back from TJ surgery and threw 195 innings. AA also added that Hutch and Marcus Stroman will not have inning limits placed on them.
Speaking of Stroman, AA says this of him, “The results matter, but at times you’re looking at stuff. (His one outing) was promising overall because he looked good. He got out of some jams. We say sometimes somebody pitched better than his line. It’s a limited, limited look but I expect Marcus to continue to impress throughout spring. I think he’ll just continue to get better.
“It’s not like the decision gets made tomorrow, but every outing for him is important. He has a chance. I can’t give you percentages but there’s a reason he’s getting stretched out. There’s a reason we’re giving him the innings.
“I haven’t seen anybody blow bubbles on the mound while throwing a pitch. I don’t think that’s being arrogant or cocky. I just think he’s very calm and composed. He does a lot of things to help himself, by holding runners, by working on his change-up. There is a reason he was a consensus first-round talent. He’s always had success … Team USA, success at a Division 1 school, success in the minors. Success everywhere he’s been, as much as people doubt him because of his size. What comes out of his arm is great. We’ve talked about the Sonny Gray comparisons. I think they’re fair. I think Marcus is ready to be up here. Do we have a spot? Is he performing better than some of the other options? Those are some of the things we have to look at and make a decision”.
So it sounds like there is a possibility that Hutch and Stroman both make the club out of Spring training if they keep impressing and J.A Happ’s back keeps flaring up, which is why he has supposedly struggled according to both AA and John Gibbons. like I’ve said all along the Jays should take the best team north with them regardless of starting the clock on Stroman’s service time.
It also looks like Erik Kratz night have the inside track on the back-up catchers job because of the power in his bat according to AA, “Still early. We’re giving Kratz the reps simply because we know Josh can do it. Josh has almost 800 innings with R.A. (Dickey) back there. Biggest thing we want to see from him is to swing the bat the way he did with the Mets earlier in his career. With Erik, we think he has upside with the bat. He has power. It’s about how he can handle R.A. The only way you find out is to continue to see him in games. We already know Josh has done a great job with (Dickey).”
With Thursday’s rain out of the Jays exhibition game against the Pirates, the Jays reworked their rotation pushing Mark Buehrle’s start till Friday when they face Tampa Bay, Marcus Stroman and Ricky Romero are both scheduled to pitch as well on Friday. Hutchison is the scheduled starter for Saturday when the Jays face the Twins and R.A Dickey gets the ball on Sunday against the Astros. J.A Happ gets bumped from his Sunday start. The Jays did not announce when Happ will pitch again, with Monday being an off day for the Blue Jays before two split squad games on Tuesday, one against the Tigers and one against the Canadian Junior National team.
And finally a sad note to end off this Thursday night, Dr. Frank Jobe who was the doctor who performed the first ever surgery that is now called Tommy John surgery in 1974, has passed away, he was 88.
— Kaley Viola (@KaylVi) March 6, 2014
First it was trading for R.A Dickey then signing Tomo Ohka and now the Jays have signed Frank Viola the third, who is the son of former Blue Jays hurler Frank Viola.
Viola signed a minor league deal on Wednesday with the Jays. Viola was initially drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 29th round of the 2005 draft. Viola missed all of 2006 undergoing Tommy John Surgery and was released by the White Sox in 2007 and last played pro ball in 2010 for the Independent League St. Paul Saints.
Viola got a chance to throw his knuckleball in front of fellow knuckler Dickey when Dickey was a member of the Mets in 2012 and spent sometime earlier this Spring watching him throw the knuckler again, according to reports Dickey was impressed with the what Viola had to offer.
With Viola turning 30 in June it’s a long shot that he makes the Major Leagues, but being a knuckleballer one never knows if he gets and maybe shows some promise and sticks in the big leagues.
OTHER SPRING NOTES
The crew from the MLB Network Radio made their annual Spring visit to Dunedin and preview the Blue Jays on Wednesday. Hosts Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette wasted no time dumping on the Blue Jays pitching and disagreeing with the Blue Jays version of pitching depth that AA and crew have been high on all Spring. The pair also picked the Jays to finish last in the AL East just like every other pundit out there.
They did interview manager John Gibbons who is high on Drew Hutchinson and Marcus Stroman, Gibby also said that this year’s camp seems much more relaxed and distraction free allowing guys to get their work in and not worry about all the hoopla that surrounded the team last Spring, not to mention guys that were at the WBC and not with the team.
When asked about everybody picking the Jays to finish last in the East Gibby says they didn’t do anything last year to prove they deserve to be picked higher. Gibby also says that he thinks the guys like flying under the radar and that club has had an upbeat and positive attitude in camp so far.
Jose Bautista was also interviewed and mentioned that he changed his workout habits in the offseason and focuses more on Baseball activity type exercises than a just working in the weight room. Bautista says that he is less bulkier this spring but feels a lot stronger than he has in the past.
J.A Happ had a miserable start Monday not even getting out of the first inning in his second spring start. Happ allowed four runs in a third of an inning, allowing two hits but walking four. Happ has now allowed six earned runs in one and a third inning this spring.
I know that most fans don’t put a whole lot of stock into Spring Training numbers, but as in the case last year with Ricky Romero who had a miserable Spring and found himself in the minors, it might be worth taking note of Happ’s next outing and if he shows signs of pitching better. One bad outing can happen in Spring Training, but three sub par outings should raise alarm bells with Alex Anthopoulos.
The injury bug is back and we’re not even through a week of games so far, Casey Janssen has been shut down for a week with a sore shoulder, Colby Rasmus is out with a stiff neck and Brett Lawrie missed a game with a hamstring issue. Janssen’s shoulder should be a concern to keep an eye out for, he had it operated on last offseason which forced him to miss most of Spring Training last season. Janssen’s shoulder didn’t flare up during the season last year as Janssen began his first full season as the Blue Jays closer in which he saved 34 games. Janssen has said however that it is muscle soreness and not anything ligament related.
I do however think as Jays fans it’s not completely ridiculous to tend to think that the Jays are not the most open and honest team when it comes to injury reporting. In 2012 when Sergio Santos went down in April with elbow soreness the Jays said it was just a few weeks, which turned out to be the rest of the season. It happened with Jose Bautista as well in 2012 as he suffered the wrist injury and was told would be a few weeks, that as well turned out to be the rest of the season. Last year it was Brandon Morrow when he went out with at the time was forearm tightness and that he would be back at some point last season, which ended up being a pinched radial nerve in his pitching forearm and Morrow missed the end of the season.
So you can see why any time the Blue Jays bring up injuries I take it with a grain of salt when they estimate the length of time a player will be out.
The Jays exhibition game against Minnesota on Monday was the first to include expanded instant replay, both challenges where on close plays at first base and both were upheld. The first challenge took two minutes while the second one took two and a half minutes. I’m still not sure how I feel about the replay challenge set-up. With only two challenges available to a manager you wouldn’t want to burn both challenges early in a game in case there was a call late in the game that was close enough to be challenged. In the end we all want the right call made, and maybe Jim Bowden has the right idea, have a fifth umpire added to each crew and his job would be to look at all the plays in a game and if the wrong call is made on a play buzz down to the home-plate umpire to have the play looked at and the right call being made. The more I think about Bowden’s idea the more I think he just might be right in this case.
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) March 1, 2014
Jerry Howarth broke the news during the pregame show on the Blue Jays radio network that the Blue Jays have found Jack Morris’ replacement in the radio booth.
Joe Siddall, a 46 year-old Windsor Ontario native is a former catcher who played in 73 big league games spanning parts of four seasons with Montreal, Florida and Detroit has been named the new analyst on Blue Jays radio broadcasts.
Sidall had worked with the Detroit Tigers the past several seasons handling pre-game catching duties.
Others that were considered for the job according to Toronto Sun Baseball columnist Bob Elliott were C.J Nitkowski and Jeff Nelson, both of whom were not interested once they were told it was a 162 game commitment.
Sidall, who has only done a few games as a fill in analyst worked his first game on Wednesday, but was finally officially announced Saturday.
Only listening to Sidall work Saturday’s game, he didn’t sound out of place, and sounds like he has the potential to become a really good analyst. He wasn’t afraid to say when a pitcher didn’t execute his pitch or admit when a player should have made a play instead of making an error.
Sidall lost his fourteen year old son to cancer just last month.
Photo Credit:(Nick Brancaccio/The Windsor Star)
Boston University is offering a course in introduction to Sabermetrics, baseball analytics, data science, the R language and SQL.
They describe the course as such on their website;
This course will cover the theory and the fundamentals of the emerging science of Sabermetrics. We will discuss the game of baseball, not through consensus or a fan’s conventional wisdom, but by searching for objective knowledge in hitting, pitching, and fielding performance. These and other areas of sabermetrics will be analyzed and better understood with current and historical baseball data.
The course also serves as applied introduction to the basics of data science, a growing field of scholarship, that requires skills in computation, statistics, and communicating results of analyses. Using baseball data, the basics of statistical regression, the R Language, and SQL will be covered.
It also says that the course has been taught successfully since 2004 and that most of the graduates of the course have gone on to careers writing about baseball and working in various capacities in MLB front offices.
The cost of the course is a contributing fee of 25,50,75 dollars (US) or you can donate a larger amount. You also have the option of auditing the course and work at your leisure and be able to access online discussions, tests and course material.
You can find out more information by visiting Boston Universtiy’s/EDX’s website
Ken Rosenthal had an interesting article on Fox Sports where agent Scott Boras rips into the Jays ownership for not spending big money on free agents this offseason.
Boras tells Rosenthal.
“There is no one who has the asset base of Rogers, It’s a premium city. It’s a premium owner with equity. And it’s a very, very good team that with additional premium talent could become a contending team. They’re a car with a huge engine that is impeded by a big corporate stop sign . . . a successful and committed ownership that needs to give their baseball people financial flexibility.”
Or in other words, Boras is pissed that the Jays didn’t overpay on big free agents and haven’t given an offer to either Kendry Morales or Steven Drew, both happen to be Boras’ clients.
In one sense his statement is right. Rogers does have a huge asset base and makes a small fortune off the Blue Jays and if they wanted to could go out and spend money in free agency. And as well Jays have two protected picks, which gave them an advantage in the market.
At the same time however lets look back on what was available on the pitching market other than Masahiro Tanaka.
There was Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana-who is still available. And A.J Burnett, who only wanted to play close to home so lets not really include him in that group. All of the pitchers I mentioned had red flags with either medical concerns or performance concerns. And with Alex Anthopoulos history of finding value on the market with free agency it’s no surprise that he passed on the market this winter.
Boras’ anger should really be at Baseball’s CBA which changed the free agent compensation in the last CBA in 2011, not at teams that just don’t see the value in the market. Boras could also be using the negativity directed at Rogers to put pressure on them to jump into the market and drive up the demand for one of his clients.
If we’ve learned anything from AA’s tenure with the Jays he won’t be pressured into overpaying into the market regardless of which power agent is trying to get him to bite.