Brew a cup of coffee and sit back - here’s the latest from Blue Jay world.
There may not be much news around the Blue Jays, but at least we have games to watch. Here’s the latest:
The Blue Jays continued their losing streak yesterday, falling to the Pirates by a score of 2-1 for the fourth consecutive loss. At least they’re losing now, when no one is putting real stock in the outcome of the games they play. Still, things looked good - Marcus Stroman, in his spring debut, pitched two perfect innings and appeared in “midseason form,” as MLB.com writer Paul Hagen puts it.
The two runs that the Pirates scored came off of a walk and two hits from Aaron Loup, who struggled early and often in his one inning of work, and Danny Barnes, who allowed a run to cross the plate after a balk (see video). The Blue Jays only run was scored on a Jose Bautista single, driving home Dwight Smith Jr (pinch running for Kevin Pillar, who had hit a double).
Today’s ballgame, again facing the Pirates, is set to start at 1:05 ET at LECOM Park. Lucas Harrell will start for the Blue Jays, competing for one of two or three available major league bullpen positions.
Josh Donaldson’s injured calf is progressing well, per Jayson Stark of ESPN. He took a few swings in the batting cage yesterday, a sign that things are moving ahead of schedule. “We anticipate no problems at all in his recover,” shared Ross Atkins to ESPN. Donaldson was initially injured during Toronto’s first full squad workout and was expected to be ready within two weeks (by March 10th), but that seems to have been accelerated now.
2017-02-27T20:28:10-05:00The Blue Jays fell 2-1 to the Pirates to drop their Grapefruit League record to 0-4. On the bright side, if there's ever a time to lose games, it's February. With the caveat that barely nothing means anything at this point, let's quickly review the good and the bad (there really wasn't anything too ugly today, unlike the weekend which featured a couple of very-slow-to-the-point-of-painful games). Pitching Marcus Stroman got the start and pitched two perfect innings, three strikeouts and one decent struck ball. He did run the count full to each batter in the 1st despite having having each in a two strike hole ahead in the count. He was very sharp in the second, needing just 12 pitches. In total, 30 pitches, 6 swinging strikes. Roberto Osuna pitched the 3rd, only needing nine pitches to four batters. After a leadoff strikeout he got in a bit of a jam, a hard single to left and a roller to right before a GIDP to end the inning Aaron Loup got the 4th and struggled to throw strikes. On one hand, it's one February inning; on the other, it's deja vu all over again. He gave up a leadoff double followed by a four pitch walk, then seemed to find his stride with five consecutive strikes to get a strikeout and get ahead 0-2. But he couldn't put John Jaso away, allowing him to hit a deep sac fly. Then got ahead 0-2 again before losing the batter with another walk. Ryan Tepera's stuff didn't look crisp, except for a couple decent 88 MPH cutters to strikeout Gregory Polanco. He was a little snakebitten in giving up three singles, two of them grounders that found holes. Danny Barnes took the loss as the first pitch he threw was a bad, elevated fastball that got driven for a double and later scored on a balk (where have you gone, Balkin' Bob ... a nation turns its lonely eyes to you...). Overall, he wasn't very sharp but got a couple swinging strikes on his changeup. T.J. House had a nice couple innings, two strikeouts and one cheap infield single (cancelled out by a caught liner to 2B). Matt Dermody pitched a decent 9th, inducing four weak balls in play after a leadoff smash up the middle on the 3-1 pitch. The Jays were stymied offensively with just four hits, negating the need for a similar rundown. They scored their only run in the 6th when Kevin Pillar doubled with two out and Jose Bautista cashed the pinch runner with a single. The one standout was Rowdy Tellez, who made what will undoubtedly be one of the few pinch running appearances of his career after a 5th inning Smoak single. He even lived up to the role and stole second....when in Rome, right? He reached in both his plate appearances. The first was a nice piece of hitting, driving a 1-1 fastball the other way for a double. The second time was a six pitch walk, showing good plate discipline in spitting on a trio of breaking balls. We did get to see a few other prospects. Anthony Alford started and went 0-3, with a fairly well hit fly ball but then two strikeouts. The newly bespectacled Danny Jansen (it took three years to figure out he had bad eyesight, seriously?) struck out on three pitches; J.B. Woodman flew out Some weekend thoughts I didn't catch the Yankees game yesterday, but some thoughts/observations/data points from the other couple games. Again, it's obviously really early so this is nothing definitive Joe Biagini looked pretty good, throwing some good change-ups. He tailed off a little the last couple innings, but if he has a third legit pitch in his change-up, I might have to re-assess the skepticism on the whole starting idea. Something to keep an eye on Mat Latos looked decent, not incredibly sharp but again, it's February. Dominic Leone is a guy I want to keep and eye on as a bullpen sleeper, he had a fantastic rookie year in 2014 and then basically lost the strike zone. He struck out the side yesterday, albeit sandwiched around a walk and hard double Conner Greene had his top shelf velo (apparently touching 100), but little in the way of command/control as he struggled to throw quality strikes in the zone and go[...]
Yesterday’s games wasn’t exactly top notch baseball, for the Blue Jays anyway. Poor defense, and not a heck of a lot of offense.
Jake Elmore isn’t impressing me. They say he plays a lot of positions, but if he plays them all like he played third base yesterday, it won’t do us much good. Richard Urena is having a tough start to the spring as well. For him, I’m going to write it off as nerves. He is better than he has shown. It was nice to see Jose Bautista get a couple of hits and Kendrys Morales hit a home run. Other than that....well, Joe Biagini pitched ok.
I have a long day ahead of me, so I won’t be in the GameThread again. The good news is the game is on TV.
Apparently, Dalton Pompey has a bit of a cold/flu and won’t be playing until he feels better.
The game will be broadcast on SN590 (available through MLB.TV), but not aired on TV, unfortunately.
Josh Donaldson’s strained calf, injured at Toronto’s first full squad workout of spring training, is progressing ahead of schedule, but still maintains the same timeline. Donaldson should be ready in two weeks or three weeks, at the latest. George Poulis, the Blue Jays’ trainer, shared earlier today that the injury is “still fresh,” and, in the meantime, Donaldson is working on his upper body.
MLBPA representatives, including president Tony Clark, held a meeting with the Blue Jays yesterday morning, beginning at 8:00 AM. The meeting, discussing the new CBA and recent pace of action rule changes, ran “unusually long,” ending at around 11:00. As a player strongly against the added intentional walk rules, Russell Martin was the last player to leave the meeting.
While digging around my house, I came across a rally towel from a few years ago. I got to wondering whether rally towels were a unique Toronto tradition, or if I was just blind when watching games at other ballparks. This lead to an overall question I felt interested enough in answering as to pose it in an article. What baseball traditions are unique to Toronto? Atlanta has “the chop,” Boston has Sweet Caroline, but what does Toronto have? Besides rally towels, the only exclusive Blue Jay practice I can think of is the fog horn after home runs and triple-horn after a win.
On a side note, do rally towels actually exist south of the border?
Jon Heyman, over at Fanrag, grades the offseason of all the MLB teams. He gives the Jays a D, the lowest mark in the league. Jim Bowden, back a couple of weeks ago, gave the Jays a B.
After Bowden’s post, we did a poll and this is what we thought:
About the Jays, Heyman says:
This would have gone a lot better had Edwin Encarnacion just accepted their early $80-million, four-year bid, though it’s hard to blame him for waiting and looking around, with the new CBA not yet done and rumors swirling that the Red Sox, Yankees, Astros and Rangers were poised to go big for EE.
Yeah, that’s true, life would be so much different if Edwin accepted the orginal deal, but then I don’t blame Edwin for wanting to check out the market. And I really don’t blame the Jays for quickly looking to going to plan B.
As it turned out, both the Jays and Edwin totally misread the free agent market.
Jose Bautista, the star they seemed to have soured on but suddenly had to have. While they got Bautista for $18 million (about 10 percent what he originally sought) it seemed almost like a desperation move partly done in response to disappointed fans (though they clearly needed outfield help).
I didn’t think it was a desperation move. I thought that Bautista’s price dropped to the point that the Jays figured they would get value for him. We needed an outfielder (as much as I think Jose would be better off to be a first basement) and Jose seemed like the best left on the market.
Cecil got a much much better contract than I expected. I’d rather have Howell for $3 million than Cecil for $30 (and I’m a big Brett Cecil fan).
I disagree with Heyman. I don’t think we had the worst offseason in baseball. It might not have been an A+, but I don’t think it was the worst in baseball. I guess we shall see.
It’s funny, Bowden gave the Tigers an F, putting them at the bottom of his list, while Heyman give them a B.
Baseball America has their annual rank of minor league talent up. The Jays rank 20th, an improvement from their rank of 24th last year. I was expecting a bigger jump, into the high teens, but at least we are moving in the right direction.