Gregor Chisholm joins the guys for the Blue Jays season preview and Stump the Josh, then Chris, Greg and Josh answer some listener mail and give MLB a do-over.
Greg and Josh talk at length with Birds Eye View Baltimore about what the division rival Orioles are up to (plus a bonus trivia question or two). After that, we generously offer Gregg Zaun an opportunity to unsay a couple of things he said.
I often have ideas for pieces that just don’t take many words to explain. Instead of not doing anything with them, I’m going to write them up and label them under “Quick and Dry”. Enjoy!
In 2014, Blue Jays fans witnessed one of the most incredible feats in baseball. It wasn’t Edwin Encarnacion’s historic month of May, nor was it Marcus Stroman’s Maddux; it was Ryan Goins’ abysmal bat. Out of all batters with a minimum of 190 plate appearances in 2014, Ryan Goins’ wRC+ of 26 ranked 2nd to last, just 2 percent better than Rays catcher Jose Molina. Of course, as everybody reading this knows, Goins is not a major league baseball player because of his bat. He’s a major league baseball player because of his defensive skills, which allow him to make plays like this courtesy of The Blue Jay Hunter:
As spring training draws closer and closer, Goins does not project to be a starter for the Blue Jays this season. With the signing of Ramon Santiago a couple of weeks ago, a job on the bench seems up in the air at this point as well. I’d really have no problem with Santiago being on this team, but the Blue Jays likely won’t carry all three of Santiago, Goins, and Danny Valencia, who is likely to be on the bench to help out against left handed pitchers. Because of this, Santiago is the odd man out in my mind, and I’d choose Ryan Goins for the utility infielder spot instead. Here’s why:
Greg and Josh answer the mail, ask Harry Pavlidis of Baseball Prospectus if the data really backs up the things they say about Jays young pitching, and we try to Stump the Josh for the very first time!
On Sunday, February, 22nd the Toronto Blue Jays’ pitchers and catchers will report to kick-off the 2015 Spring Training in Dunedin, Florida. The position players will start to trickle in following the pitchers and catchers with the whole team reporting by the 27th for their first full-team workout. Toronto is looking to bounce back from a disappointing season in 2014 that ended with the Blue Jays finishing 3rd in the AL East and missing the playoffs. Toronto clearly believed the key to remedying the disappointment was offseason acquisitions. Toronto made a huge splash this offseason with the signing of top free agent Russell Martin and trading for Josh Donaldson and Michael Saunders.
The major offseason additions will be placed in a lineup alongside some already big names in Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes. If Toronto can keep its plethora of stars healthy, they will boast one of the fiercest lineups in all of baseball. According to numerous sites listed at gambling.com, Toronto is given 14/5 odds to win the AL East in 2015 behind the only team who might have made a bigger splash in the offseason, the Boston Red Sox.
Despite the successful offseason for Toronto, the Blue Jays failed to address some major concerns for the club – second base, center field and pitching depth. Donaldson and Martin provide both offensive and defensive support but the Jays already had a catcher in Dioner Navarro and there were cheap, quality options at third on the market. No one is complaining about the signings of these two stars but some are concerned the star-studded lineup will be overshadowed by the glaring holes and lack of pitching.
This week Greg and Chris talk about money for grass, and the look of the new Astroturf. Dan Szymborski joins us with a sneak peak at Blue Jays ZiPS projections, and then we introduce our new feature: Stump the Josh!
Aaron Sanchez has been one of the most popular and tantalizing prospects in the Blue Jays’ system since being drafted in 2010. He has the traditional pitcher look and has a pitch repertoire that puts fear into a hitters head. Most fans had been counting down the minutes for the arrival of Sanchez in the big leagues. In 2014, we finally had our first solid look at his pitching ability against big leaguers. It began in a terrific three inning relief appearance in Montreal, where he dazzled us all with his down right filthy curveball. Later in the season he arrived in Toronto to help save the disastrous bullpen. He went on to pitch 33 innings and was a ground ball machine posting a 65.9 GB% and a 1.09 ERA.
It’s difficult for fans not to be extremely excited about this years starting rotation which may very well include Sanchez. However, this hope and excitement quickly turns to anger when ESPN’s Keith Law gets involved. People seem to think there is some kind of underlying motive or conspiracy theory about how Law was once high on Sanchez and has now soured on him. The truth of course is that Law (and many others) didn’t approve of the mechanical adjustments the Blue Jays put in place for Sanchez. I find it odd that people seem confused about his scouting reports, so I thought I would go under the hood and show you what Keith has been talking about since last year.
It certainly has been a strange off-season in Toronto, hasn’t it? It started out with the quick waiver claims of Andy Dirks and Justin Smoak (both of whom were later non-tendered, only to eventually re-sign) which were almost immediately followed up by the shocking trade of Adam Lind to the Milwaukee Brewers. After that, the Jays were off to the races. Over the next month (and 3 days), the Blue Jays made a flurry of moves; they made big splashes to bring in all-stars Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson as well as smaller, but still impactful trades to bring in Michael Saunders and minor league second baseman, Devon Travis. In a span of just 34 days, Alex Anthopoulos had drastically altered the look of this team.
And that’s when things ground to a screeching halt. Over the next 7 weeks, the only deals Anthopoulos made were to acquire minor league depth. This isn’t to say these pickups don’t have value, or that they’re somehow bad (which is absolutely crazy), but as the calendar quickly shifts towards February and Spring Training edges ever closer, the Blue Jays have as many holes to fill as they did back in October. The 2B situation is still a tire fire, the bullpen is still full of high risk options, and DH/1B (the non-Edwin Encarnacion division) and CF are still major question marks.
While many fans have been left scratching their heads at this sudden lack of activity, the truth is that it’s really not that much of a mystery.
Greg and Josh discuss Jeff Hoffman and the Duquette/Beeston saga and Chris talks to Ryan Parker from Baseball Prospectus about hitting before the 3 guys offer MLB a couple of do-overs.