Over the past few years the Blue Jays have released some pretty cool promotion video’s over the years but this years video may be the coolest one yet.
Nice Work Blue Jays PR department!
It’s that time of year again.
It’s the time that I again get on my soapbox and bemoan the fact that the Toronto Blue Jays have their heads stuck in the sand and haven’t done away with the current format of their Winter Tour and moved towards a more fan friendly type of event, like a fan festival.
New President Mark Shapiro hasn’t even been in his current position three months yet so the Winter Tour thing was most likely on the bottom of his list of things to do when he arrived in town. But one would think with the rising popularity of the team the past few years the organizers of the Winter Tour would realize that they must change the current format of the tour.
For example, the Toronto portion of their current Winter Tour had an autograph session in a mall in Newmarket on Wednesday night. The event was slated to start at 6:30, due to the crowd that lined up early the line was cut off at 1:30 pm. There is an autograph session scheduled in Ottawa for Saturday morning and I imagine the same thing will happen there. This isn’t the first time this has happened as there were people turned away from events last year as well.
I’d also like to believe that Shapiro is enough of a forward thinker, he’s already renamed the “State of the Franchise’ to “The Leadoff”, that improving the fan experience is a big part of his job, it’s even a point he has brought up since he took the job. He also has the experience in improving the fan experience at the ballpark, he had a big part in the renovations at Progressive Field making it more fan friendly when he was the President in Cleveland. They even have “Tribe Fest” which they starter in 2013.
So I am proposing, just as I did last year, that the Blue Jays host a fan festival. They can host it during the third weekend in January and have it at the Rogers Centre. They can have autograph sessions, Q and A sessions with current players, heck they can even trot out some of the Alumni and the TV and radio broadcasters like other teams do. They could do what they do in Oakland during their fan fest and host a “garage sale” where they sell off game worn jerseys, broken bats, Spring training jerseys and other game used items. They could even do clubhouse tours. They could charge a fee of 10 to 20 dollars and have the proceeds from the ticket sales go to the Jays Care foundation. It would be a win-win situation for all involved, the fans would have a much better experience than the current Winter Tour provides and the Blue Jays would get some well deserved good will among the fan base.
The time has come, and with new leadership at the top it is my hope that they see the potential that is out there in doing a fan festival and dropping their current Winter Tour.
You can thank me later Mr. Shapiro.
The Blue Jays Winter Tour is well underway and today we learned that Aaron Sanchez has been training this off-season with Marcus Stroman. We also learned that Sanchez had added 25 pounds, Sanchez stated that his goal was to build up durability in order to be in the starting rotation this season, although he also says he hasn’t been told by the team to prepare to start the season in the rotation. I would assume that the Jays would give Sanchez the chance to start this Spring and with Drew Storen addition it does give the Jays a little more depth in the back-end of the bullpen, and Sanchez’s addition to the rotation would improve what some experts have called a mediocre rotation. It would also most likely bump Jesse Chavez into bullpen as the long man, a role he has experience in as he was in that role in Oakland prior to last season.
We also learned thanks to a pair of Jamie Campbell tweets that Brett Cecil’s calf muscle that he injured in the playoffs is completely healed and he will be ready come the start of Spring Training next month. Campbell also tweeted that if the Blue Jays had made the World Series Cecil would have pitched thanks to the intensified treatment he received during the playoffs. That doesn’t really surprise me considering there was talk that if the Jays had advanced Cecil would have been available, I also remember hearing that he was throwing off a mound during one of the off days during the ALCS.
GIBBY ON SHORT LEASH?
Stephen Brunt made an appearance on The Brady and Walker show (watch here) on Tuesday and when asked about just how long of a leash John Gibbons has with the new regime Brunt responded with saying he thinks Gibby is on a short leash and if things go south early it could be a very different conversation. I know that Gibbons was Alex Anthopoulos’ hire and the new regime inherited him and he isn’t probably their first choice to manage the team but at the time of AA’s dismissal it would have added even more vitriol to the PR nightmare that was happening. I also think that Gibbons deserves a long leash this season, in fact he deserves the full season here at the very minimum. That’s what winning a division and winning a playoff round the previous season will do for a manager. I would like to think that all of this talk is just that. I’m smart enough to realize that sports talk radio shows in Toronto like to make something out of nothing, they’ve been doing it for years with the Maple Leafs. But, just for fun let’s go back to 2002 when Mark Shapiro took over as General Manager of the Indians, he inherited Charlie Manuel as the manager. Shapiro had every intention to have Manuel manage the Indians for the full season- and he would have-but Manuel, who was in the last year of his contract, approached Shapiro about a contract extension and wanted to know if he was in the teams plans beyond the 2002 season. Shapiro abruptly fired him.
The big difference with the two managers is that Gibbons is under contract for 2017 as well, thanks to his rolling option in his contract.
AA’s OTHER JOB OFFER
Thanks to Bob McCown we now know what one of Alex Anthopoulos’ other job offers were before signing on with the L.A Dodgers. McCown’s co-host on Prime Time Sports. McCown said on Tuesday (watch here) that he and AA had a long conversation about broadcasting and the possibility of AA becoming Bobcat’s sidekick. McCown has even gone as far as asking Anthopoulos to come in and co-host for a week. Thanks to the Dodgers, we will never now if AA would have been any good at radio. Maybe after he’s done with baseball he’ll get into radio.
The Toronto Blue Jays made an addition to their front office on Sunday hiring Mike Murov as the Director of Baseball Operations according to a press release.
Murov comes to the Blue Jays from the Red Sox where he has been since 2010 where he worked as Assistant Director of Baseball Operations. Murov had worked previously with Cincinnati and Miami.
Murov’s responsibility in his new role with the Blue Jays will be to assist in directing and implementing decision-making systems and process across the department and will also assist in preparation and analysis of financial, statistical and contract information, he will also be assisting in contract negotiations and preparing for the arbitration process.
The Blue Jays were busy Friday morning ahead of the 1 pm deadline to exchange arbitration figures signing six players.
The Blue Jays came to terms on one-year deals with Brett Cecil ($3.8million), Steve Delebar ($850,000), Drew Storen ($8.375 million), Aaron Loup ($1.05 million), Drew Hutchison ($2.2 million) and Michael Saunders ($2.9 million).
The Blue Jays were unable to come to terms with Jesse Chavez and American League MVP Josh Donaldson. The Blue Jays offered Chavez $3.6 million while he asked for $4 million. Donaldson asked for $11.8 million while the Blue Jays offered $11.375 million.
In Donaldson’s case, I know it is part of the process of the arbitration system, but to the fans that have endured a disappointing off-season going to arbitration over $450, 000 to the American League MVP just reeks of pettiness from an ownership that have been accused of being cheap. Realistically Donaldson should win his arbitration case so in the end he will most likely will get his $11.8 million dollars.
The Blue Jays are still a File and trial team so there won’t be any deals announced with Donaldson or Chavez before their arbitration cases.
This is the last year of arbitration for Cecil, Storen, Saunders and Chavez who will all be Free Agents at the end of the 2016 season.
I had an opportunity this past weekend while attending the Blue Jays fourth annual coaching clinic at the Rogers Centre to listen in on a session presented by Blue Jays head groundskeeper Tom Farrell. During the session he talked about properly maintaining any baseball field including the local minor ball field that the kids play on. During his session Farrell and his crew even did a wonderful demonstration on how they repair the damage caused by digging holes in the dirt area around home plate. The gathering of coaches would learn that from the top of the dirt to the actual cement surface is only four inches.
After the session a scrum of us gathered around Farrell, most of the questions revolved around diamond maintenance around your local fields. I did however ask Farrell just how big of a job it was going to be to install a dirt infield.
According to Farrell the work involves digging twelve inches of the cement surface so they can put in the sand, gravel and other material needed. Farrell says the 12 inches will allow the moisture to move through the materials to keep the dirt infield moist.
Farrell did say the biggest problem with the dirt cutouts around the bases is keeping the moisture in dirt because there isn’t enough space from the top of the surface to the bottom of the surface since it is only four inches. Farrell also added that they do keep the dirt cutouts tarped between games to avoid the cutouts from drying out, pointing out that when the weather is really warm and the roof is opened the dirt dries out really quick. In fact Farrell said that when the weather gets really warm it’s a common occurrence that when they are watering down the dirt you can see it dry out just as quick as the water is applied.
Farrell said that the work on the infield will start in February and is expected to take three to four weeks.
A little less than 36 hours after Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins swapped Ben Revere for Drew Storen, Adkins made an appearance on MLB Network Radio’s Front Office show Sunday morning and had some interesting things to say about the futures of both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Atkins says that he has met with Encarnacion and plans to meet with Bautista within the next week. He also added that he wants to extend both Bautista and Encarnacion but haven’t made them any offers. Can’t say I’m overly surprised that Atkins would say that because he wouldn’t be winning himself any favors with the fan base, who seem to have been out for blood after a rather quiet off-season, I will consider this news when it comes out that offers are actually being offered across the table to them.
We still don’t totally know whether Aaron Sanchez will be back in the bullpen or used in the rotation as Atkins said that they want to be flexible and not paint themselves into a corner just in case of depth issues. He also didn’t commit to either Roberto Osuna or Storen as the Blue Jays’ closer when the season starts.
When it came to the R.A Dickey trade rumors that started to surface after the Storen trade late Friday night Atkins said that while they are willing to listen on anyone, they are not actively shopping Dickey. I would hope if they were that Dickey’s personal
caddy catcher Josh Thole goes with him, in a related note, Buster Olney (subscriber only) believes that he doubts the Jays would get an offer that would be good enough, claiming that there are better options out there in the Free Agency/trade market for starting pitching. Although according to a Jeff Blair tweet late Friday night it seems like there is interest in Dickey. I would find it really hard to fathom that the Blue Jays would be shopping Dickey with the shape of their starting rotation, the thought of letting a guy who pitches 200 innings get away almost seems absurd. For what Dickey makes compared to what the going rate is for starting pitching right now it’s almost safe to say that his deal is a bargain for the Blue Jays. I guess time will tell if there is anything more to this story other than rumor.
To end off our weekend roundup, Blue Jays play-by-play man Buck Martinez is releasing his newest book called “Change Up: How to Make the Great Game of Baseball Even Better” It is published by Harper Collins and due out March 15th. The book is described as;
In the spirit of Moneyball, the voice of the Toronto Blue Jays offers cutting insights on baseball
Buck Martinez has been in and around professional baseball for nearly fifty years as a player, manager and broadcaster. Currently the play-by-play announcer for the Toronto Blue Jays, Martinez has witnessed enormous change in the game he loves, as it has morphed from a grassroots pastime to big business. Not all of the change has been for the better, and today’s fans struggle to connect to their on-the-field heroes as loyalty to club and player wavers and free agency constantly changes the face of every team’s roster.
In Change Up, Martinez offers his unique insights into how Major League Baseball might reconnect with its fanbase, how the clubs might train and prepare their players for their time in “The Show,” and how players might approach the sport in a time of sagging fan interest. Martinez isn’t shy with his opinions, whether they be on pitch count, how to develop players through the minor-league system, and even if there should be a minor-league system at all. Always entertaining, ever insightful, Martinez shares brilliant insights and inside pitches about summer’s favourite game.
The Jays dealt from an area of strength Friday night in order to add depth to a position of weakness as the they traded Outfielder Ben Revere to the Washington Nationals for reliever Drew Storen and unspecified cash considerations according to MLB Trade Rumors.
It’s is a deal that makes sense for both teams as the Blue Jays have a glutton of Outfielders and Washington had no need for Storen after acquiring Jonathan Papelbon at the trade deadline last season.
Revere who the Blue Jays acquired at the trade deadline played in 56 games as a Blue Jay hitting .319/.354/.381 only hitting one home run while swiping seven bases, Storen made 58 appearances for the Nationals where he had 29 saves before losing his closer’s job at the trade deadline.
Both players are Arbitration eligible this year. Revere had two more years of team control while Storen will be a Free Agent at the end of this season. According to MLBTR they project Revere to earn $6.7 million this season while they project Storen to make $8.8 million.
How the acquisition of Storen affects the Blue Jays plans with Aaron Sanchez is anyone’s guess, but as I’ve pointed out in earlier posts with the logjam of starters competing for that fifth spot I really don’t see Sanchez leaving the bullpen for the rotation.
With Revere’s departure it opens the door yet again for Dalton Pompey to emerge on the scene and show he belongs in the big leagues, something that he couldn’t do last season. It also puts pressure on Michael Saunders to show what he can do as a Major League hitter, something that he hasn’t been able to show he is capable of doing.
With the Arbitration deadline slowly approaching MLBTR’s Matt Swatrz goes into detail on Josh Donaldson’s upcoming Arbitration case. All told he figures that Donaldson is due for a $7.7 million raise from last years salary of $3.4 million. He compares Donaldson’s case to that off Chris Davis’ arbitration case in 2014 when he was awarded a record $7.7 million raise. Swartz argues that Davis’ 2014 wasn’t a MVP winning season and that Donaldson can use that argument to cement his case. Realistically we all knew that Donaldson was going to get a huge raise in 2016 and that is the one thing that maybe holding things up when it comes to player signings as they have to stick relatively to their budget.
Speaking of the budget, rumors are floating around that the Blue Jays are looking into Fernando Rodney. Rodney would be a good depth piece. If you take away his stint with Seattle last season where he was absolutely dreadful he’s been a fairly reliable reliever and has had some good seasons as a closer in Tampa. With the Blue Jays lack of depth in the bullpen I would like to think that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins are smart enough to realize that an incentive laden type of contract offer for Rodney might just get a deal done. Sure, there are other names still out there but none with the track record that Rodney has had over the recent years, and as much as his stupid arrow he does after a save and his inability to wear his hat properly he would be a smart signing for the Jays.
It appears that former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has landed on his feet reportedly taking a front office job with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I wish him well in his new endeavor. I won’t be like some of the Blue Jay fans who hold AA’s departure at the feet of Shapiro. AA didn’t leave because of Shapiro, if fans really want someone to blame put it squarely on the feet of Rogers who mishandled the President job and replacement search with hilarity. While it seems that some fans have decided that they can’t move on from AA’s departure, may I remind them that the chapter on AA’s time has closed, just like it has with any other popular player, manager and executive. All it takes is another winning year for the Blue Jays and the fans will soon become fans of the new regime. Most were ready to run AA out-of-town at the All-Star break, how winning changes things.
With the Hall of Fame inductees now announced, it was interesting reading former Blue Jay Roy Halladay’s tweets renouncing P.E.D users from entering the HOF, Interestingly enough Roger Clemens accused Halladay of using amphetamines during his time in Toronto. It should be pointed out that Clemens was only a teammate of Halladay’s for one month. Halladay was a September call-up in 1998 which was Clemens last season with the Blue Jays, so I find it hard to believe that Clemens would have paid enough attention to a rookie call-up to see if or what they were actually taking. It should also be noted that Halladay never failed a drug test in his big league career so maybe Clemens should be keeping his mouth shut.
It will be a Happy New Year at John Gibbons’ house in San Antonio as his 2017 option has been picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Thanks to the way former Jays G.M Alex Anthopoulos structured Gibbons contract when he was brought back as Manager in November 2012 it guarantees that as long as he is employed by the ball club on January 1st his option for the following season is automatically picked up. It also now means that Gibbons now has an option for the 2018 season included with his contract.
Anthopoulos went this route with Gibby’s deal to avoid the situation that occurred during John Farrell’s tenure as manager in Toronto, when after his first season questions were raised about his future in Toronto when rumors that the Red Sox wanted to hire him to fill their managerial opening. The rumors came back in the second half of the 2012 season when it was mentioned that Farrell wanted to back to Boston to take on his dream job, there were also plenty of questions regarding an extension and the possibility of being a lame duck manager had Farrell been with the Blue Jays in 2013.
Gibbons will be entering his tenth season as manager, his fourth season since being re-hired in November of 2012. Gibbons only trails Cito Gaston on the Franchise list for games managed with 1092. In 2015 Gibbons enjoyed his most successful season as the Blue Jays manager as the Blue Jays won 93 games en route to an American League East title and a trip to the ALCS for the first time since 1993.
Gibbons holds a career record of 555-541.