Archive for January, 2012

2012 Blue Jays Top Prospects – Introduction

A lot of people don’t quite understand why I am still relatively optimistic on the future of the Toronto Blue Jays.  I can understand the trepidations that exist among a majority of the fan base given the lack of success or even a playoff appearance in nineteen years.  This frustration clearly boiled over this past offseason when the Jays faithful were handed disappointment after disappointment when the team failed to sign any of the big ticket free agents.

Some would call me a Jays apologist and others suggest I have put too much faith in the current Jays front office regime lead by Alex Anthopoulos.  So, why the sunny optimism?  First, the road ahead is going to be filled with challenges and I would be a fool if I thought it was going to be an easy path back to relevance in the AL East.

However it is hard to ignore the big shining star that is the Blue Jays minor league system and its wide array of exciting prospects.  The system is awesome and currently boasts and impressive collection of high ceiling, potentially high impact players. 

There isn’t a can’t miss guy like a Bryce Harper or Jurickson Profar that headlines the group but it is definitely the deepest group of high quality prospects in all of baseball.  Given the high fail rate of prospects (more will miss than make) I think having as many possible high impact players should be the goal of any major league team. 

In this regard the Jays are the envy of every single major league baseball team outside of possibly Texas and San Diego in terms of pure system depth.

Respected prospect guru John Sickels recently ranked the Toronto Blue Jays farm system number one in baseball, almost exclusively due to the reason we discussed – depth.  We do not have any A- or A prospects (like Bryce Harper, Shelby Miller, and Matt Moore etc) but that does not worry me as we had the most B+ rated prospects in baseball.

The Jays had eight prospects graded a B+ and that is a particularly impressive number, with that comes the potential for two or three of them to take big strides forward and possibly become an A- or A level prospect.  Again, nothing in the world of prospects is a guarantee but an A level prospect is a good bet to become at least a major league regular (health permitting).

Not that one man’s opinion or ranking is the be all and end all but as you will see below I have taken the time to gather the rankings and opinions from the most valued sources (Baseball America, John Sickels, Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus) to give you a good idea of what the experts are saying. 

While not all of the top talent evaluators agreed on the placement of every player I have researched a ton of different sites/sources, ranked the players, researched some more and re-ranked the top 15 to ensure it is in my opinion, a legit listing.

For the scouting reports I paraphrased some of the analysis shared by Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America and Fangraphs.  I highly recommend getting a subscription to the first two websites if you are serious about learning MLB prospects – I know I renew mine each year!

It was a ton of work but a lot of fun and I will present the AL Eastbound & Down Top 15 Blue Jays Prospects tomorrow!


Mariners Offered Pineda for Brett Lawrie?

According to a rumour posted at MLB Trade rumours the Blue Jays and Mariners discussed a potential Michael Pineda for Brett Lawrie swap this offseason prior to the M’s getting Jesus Montero from the New York Yankees.

Ben Nicholson-Smith wrote:

Alex Anthopoulos hinted last night that some young Blue Jays drew trade interest this offseason, and Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail has the details on some talks that never materialized. The Blue Jays and Mariners discussed Michael Pineda, but the Blue Jays balked when the Mariners wanted Brett Lawrie in return for the right-hander, according to Blair’s sources.

Instead, the Yankees obtained Pineda for Jesus Montero last month and the Blue Jays held onto Lawrie. The 22-year-old British Columbia native made his MLB debut in 2011, posting a .293/.373/.580 line in 171 plate appearances. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik selected Lawrie in the first round of the 2008 draft when he was Milwaukee’s scouting director. Meanwhile, Pineda posted a 3.74 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 171 innings as a rookie last year.


Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail has a few details.
Dave Cameron of Fangraphs added his two cents.

Analysis: If the rumours are true and the Jays flatly turned down this offer you can see how highly Alex Anthopoulos values our incumbent Canadian 3B Brett Lawrie.

Jose Bautista To Grace Cover of MLB 2K12

Jose Bautista has been chosen as the cover athlete for the Canadian version of MLB 2K12 – The Show!

Blue Jays Hold Annual ‘State of the Franchise’

When Alex Anthopoulos speaks, Blue Jays nation listens.  The GM of the Jays is a great baseball mind and he definitely loves to talk about the game and the future of the team.  The team held their annual ‘State of the Franchise’ for season ticket holders and General Manager Anthopoulos, Manager John Farrell and President Paul Beeston each took time to discuss the current health of the franchise.

Here is a brief, high-level summary of the live webcast.

Farrell told the crowd he was optimistic about the Jays’ chances this season.

“I go into this year with ultimate optimism. I think we return a team that was the fifth highest scoring offence in the American League. I really feel like our main area to make up those ten games that we’ve got to get into playoff hunt is going to come from the quality innings pitched from our rotation,” he said.

Beeston was also positive about the future of the Jays.

“I, for one, feel very very strongly that not only are we going in the right direction, but there are so many ways that it can be manifested. In the way that the minor league teams are doing, the way the major league teams are doing, the way that Alex has directed this club and the way that John is leading this club, that I think our future is very very very bright.”

On Prince Fielder:

“If it has been a five year deal, we would have been there.”

Alex Anthopolous added that the roster will continue to turn over this year.

“The roster, in the two years that I have been on the job, has turned over a ton and I think it has a chance to continue to turn over. We’re going to continue to make trades, continue to add players.”

He also stated “the talent level we have, there’s tremendous upside and high ceiling to this club.”

On free agent pursuits:

“Some players don’t want to play on turf, some don’t want to DH, some don’t want to switch leagues”.

On Yu Darvish:

“We’re linked to everyone, but again, we’re not going past 5 years.  There’s a lot of guys out there in the league that we like, but we like them at a certain price.  That’s why we like the trade route, instead of the FA route.  We could have made trades to excite fans, but some of those deals wouldn’t have worked out well long-term.

Pretty standard question and answer type stuff and nothing really earth shattering here.  But isn’t is nice to be discussing baseball?

Peter Gammons: Roy Oswalt Tells Jays No

According to Peter Gammons, senior Fox baseball analyst, Roy Oswalt has told the Toronto Blue Jays he is not interested in signing a contract with the team.

Gammons provided this information via Twitter.

Analysis: This was a long shot anyway so the news is not a huge surprise. It is unfortunate however as this is the perfect year for a stop gap option in the rotation with an obvious need for a veteran innings eater and most of the prospect SPs still needing some more minor league seasoning.

Maybe a guy like Deck McGuire could make the team out of camp with a strong spring training. Or perhaps another unknown like Henderson Alvarez will pitch his way into the big league rotation.

New MLB Playoff Format And The Jays

It appears that major league baseball will be implementing the controversial change to the playoff system as early as 2012 if Bud Selig’s recent comments are any indication. 

From the Chicago Tribune:

“I really believe we’ll have the (extra) wild card for this year,” Selig said Friday at SoxFest. “Clubs really want it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an issue that the clubs want more than to have the extra wild card.”

“We’re working on dates right now,” Selig said. “It looks to me like we’ll have it, because I’ve told everybody we have to have it. It will be exciting. A one-game playoff and it will start the playoffs off in a very exciting manner.”

The disgruntled Jays fans that still haven’t recovered from giving the bad bodied DH Prince Fielder a key to the city of Toronto also seem to forget this little nugget.  The biggest complaint over the past decade (and longer) has been the unfair competitive landscape in the AL East, and adding an additional playoff team is bound to help the Jays in the coming years.

Continue reading ‘New MLB Playoff Format And The Jays’

Should the Jays Target Roy Oswalt?

The expectations couldn’t be any lower for the Toronto Blue Jays after an offseason much of the impatient fan base has deemed a huge disappointment.  I can understand some frustration but are the Jays prospects for the 2012 season really that bleak?  

Last season the Blue Jays finished .500 with an even 81-81 record to finish fourth in the toughest division in sports – again.  The division sports three of the best operated and most talented teams in baseball (Tampa Bay, New York and Boston) and is likely to be the hardest division in the game for the foreseeable future.

Continue reading ‘Should the Jays Target Roy Oswalt?’

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