Archive for March, 2012

Blue Jays Rumour Roundup – March 31, 2012

Here is a weekend edition of Blue Jays rumours as well as a few interesting tidbits around the AL East as well.

-Another spring training victory today for the Blue Jays, defeating the Philles 8-5.  Yahoo sports has a piece on 2012 Spring Training winners and losers and had this to say about the Jays so far this spring:

The Toronto Blue Jays are 23-5 this spring, by far the best record in Florida or Arizona. They have the best winning percentage of any team since 1997. After a 2-2 start, the Blue Jays won 10 in a row. Then they lost two split-squad games in one day before embarking on another 10-game winning streak. They got beat Friday, and the clubhouse joke is that it’s the only thing that kept them from a berth in the Final Four.

 “Winning means we are prepared and playing well, not just the big-league guys but the minor-league guys who played the second half of these games,” said right fielder Jose Bautista, the Blue Jays’ best player. “But the wins don’t count. We all know that.”

 The Jays’ minor-league talent is ranked No. 5 overall by Baseball America. General manager Alex Anthopoulos is beginning his third year, and he’s already restocked the farm system with solid prospects through trades and the MLB draft. Toronto’s stockpile of young pitchers is especially impressive.

 Third baseman Brett Lawrie, one of the best young hitters in the game and already a fixture in the lineup, is batting .545 this spring. Yet not all of Toronto’s spring performers are spring chickens: Omar Vizquel, a 24-year veteran who will turn 45 in April, made the team in an infield utility role after batting .452.

Whether 23-5 or 5-23, the Jays would still be pegged to finish fourth in the highly competitive American League East division. They’ve been baseball’s best fourth-place team each of the past four years, which might even exceed a Grapefruit League title in the pantheon of useless accomplishments.

 But two 10-game winning streaks do make the Jays unmistakable spring winners in our accounting.

-Adam Lind expects to be back in the lineup for the Blue Jays tomorrow (Sunday, April 1)

“He’s feeling better, he’s pain free,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. “He’ll take some ground balls, he’ll take BP on the field, so we’re hopeful he’s back in the lineup [Sunday].”

– The much discussed Blue Jays starting rotation has not yet officially been announced by manager John Farrell:

“Probably before we get on the plane to get out of here,” Farrell said after being asked when an announcement could be expected. “We’ve got the last starts to make that further evaluation. We’re still evaluating.”

Despite Farrell’s claims, the rotation does appear relatively set with Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Henderson Alvarez and Kyle Drabek as the most likely starting five.

The only question mark is Drabek, who in theory could still lose out to Aaron Laffey despite the lefty having surrendered nine earned runs in his final 10 innings of work this spring.

Toronto only needs a fifth starter once prior to April 21 because of three off-days during the first 12 days of the season. In the past, Farrell has opted to give his starters an extra day of rest whenever possible. But in this case, there would be too much time off if the club went with more than four starters in certain situations.

Some unsettling news for an AL East rival the New York Yankees as they have placed newly acquired starting pitcher Michael Pineda on the 15-day DL to start the season with right shoulder stiffness.

The Yankees said they were relieved to find no structural damage for the big Dominican, who had been struggling all spring to regain the zip on his fastball.

“It’s great news, for what your biggest concerns are,” New York manager Joe Girardi told reporters at the Yankees’ spring training camp in Tampa, Florida.

“It just needs a little rest. He’ll get treatment and then we’ll see how long until he picks up a ball. We’ll be a little conservative.”

-More bad news on the injury front for another AL East team as the Tampa Bay Rays will start the season without their starting centre fielder BJ Upton.  Upton collided with fellow outfielder Desmond Jennings and injured his back, although the injury is not considered serious he is not eligible to return until April 9, 2012.

To add depth the Rays have acquired outfielder Kyle Hudson from the Rangers for future considerations, reports Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). Texas signed him to a minor league deal back in January.

The 25-year-old hit .296/.375/.336 line with 41 stolen bases in 485 minor league plate appearances last season.


Blue Jays Spring Training Recap – March 31, 2012

Former Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay finished up a rocky 2012 spring training against the Blue Jays and the results were once again mixed.  He allowed three hits, two runs and struck out three in two innings in a 8-5 loss to the Blue Jays.  Halladay threw 45 pitches, but had his afternoon shortened because of a 37-minute rain delay.  Here is the boxscore.

Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion hit a solo home run to left-centre field in the second inning to make it 1-0. Eric Thames followed with a double off the top of the wall in left-center field. He scored on a single from Brett Lawrie to make it 2-0. Jose Bautista would add to the lead with a solo home run in the fifth.

Up next: Brandon Morrow will make his final start of the spring when the Blue Jays host the Pirates on Sunday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Morrow is slated for five innings and will be followed on the mound by Sergio Santos, Francisco Cordero and Casey Janssen. It will be the second-to-last home game of the spring for Toronto, which hosts Detroit on the final day of the Grapefruit League season.

Blue Jays Prospect Report – March 30, 2012

A couple notable performances from spring training action:

CF Anthony Gose, 0-3, 2 runs, 1BB, 4 SB (7) – including a steal of home!

SP Drew Hutchison, 4 ip, 4 h, 1 er, 1 BB – 2 K – 3.00 ERA

Blue Jays Spring Training Recap – March 29, 2012

Here’s hoping the Jays save some of this inspired brand of baseball for the regular season as they set a franchise record with their 22nd victory of the grapefruit season beating the Boston Red Sox 3-2.  All the talk was on speedster Anthony Gose who stole second, third and home in the eight inning after reaching on a walk.  Here is the boxscore.

That gave Gose seven stolen bases for the spring, including four in Thursday’s game.

“I never saw anybody steal second, third and home in the same inning in my career,” said Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who arrived in the big leagues in 1987. “He is obviously exciting. He can take over on the basepaths. He has a combination of pure speed, plus the ability to read some things. You just turn him lose. He’s a pure basestealer.”

As for Thursday’s steal of home, Farrell explained Gose saw Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia “lobbing the ball back” to reliever Justin Thomas and took off.

 “It’s a risky play,” Farrell admitted, “but with two outs, it was a calculated gamble.”

Up next: The No. 5 spot in the Blue Jays’ rotation may be on the line Friday, when lefty Aaron Laffey (2-0, 4.80 ERA) takes the mound in Dunedin at 1:05 p.m. ET against also unbeaten Liam Hendricks (2-0, 2.40) of the Twins.

Prior to Thursday’s game, Blue Jays manager John Farrell said the club “should have a better read” on the No. 5 starter after Friday’s game and may make a decision on Saturday.

Omar Vizquel Earns Utility Spot

Veteran infielder Omar Vizquel has earned the utility job for the Toronto Blue Jays 2012 season.  Vizquel will be counted upon to provide leadership and to play multiple positions (including shortstop) in the event of injuries.

Vizquel’s strong performance this spring and proven ability to handle three different spots around the infield gave him the edge.

“He’s going to fit the role, he accepts the role, he knows his role defensively and he still made a lot of nice plays,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said after Toronto’s 9-3 victory over the Orioles.

“He’s not going to be a power bat, obviously, but he has enough contact ability to do some things, and also late in the game, if he needs to come in the infield, he’ll be fine.”

Analysis: Let’s not expect a .350 wOBA but the fact he can play shortsop in a pinch and handle the bat well enough when called upon will make him valuable throughout the course of a 162-game season.

Blue Jays Spring Training Recap – March 28, 2012

The Blue Jays put a beating on the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon, winning easily 9-3.  Here is the boxscore.

Eric Thames recorded a two-run double while Chris Woodward added an RBI double of his own en route to the Blue Jays’ 9-3 victory over the Orioles on Wednesday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

The Blue Jays have tied their franchise record for most victories in the Grapefruit League season, with a 21-4-1 record and are on a nine-game winning streak.

Up next: Pitching prospect Drew Hutchison will get the start when the Blue Jays travel to Fort Myers at 1:35 p.m. ET on Thursday to take on the Red Sox. Hutchison will be followed on the mound by Drew Carpenter, Jesse Chavez, Jim Hoey and Robert Coello. Most of Toronto’s regulars will get to avoid the long drive, and Henderson Alvarez will start in a Minor League game

Kyle Drabek Looks Strong Versus Yankees

With Dustin McGowan on the mend (plantar fasciitis in the right foot) even more eyes were on the Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Kyle Drabek tonight.  Not only are people within the Jays organization still hoping he can live up to his potential but maybe he can earn an outright spot in the rotation immediately.  Kyle Drabek helped his case with a strong spring training effort versus the New York Yankees and basically their full starting lineup.

Kyle Drabek faced 20 batters and gave the Jays 5 shutout innings, allowing 5 hits, walking 2 and striking out 5 to improve his spring ERA to 3.14.  Not only did he strike out a batter an inning but he also kept the ball on the ground inducing 5 ground ball outs (and only 2 flyouts).  The talented youngster would be a major boon to the questionable back end of the rotation if he were able to put it all together on a consistent basis.

Last season was rough for Drabek – 78.2 IPs, 87 hits, 55 BB, 51 K’s, 6.06 ERA, 5.52 FIP, 1.81 WHIP.  But don’t forget one Roy Halladay set a record for the worst ERA (10.64) for any starting pitcher with more than 60 IPs and he turned out pretty good.  Not to say that Kyle Drabek is remotely close to the talent level of a Roy Halladay but it goes to show failure can quickly turn to success with the right combination of talent, effort and a little good fortune. 

With that I thought we would revisit Kyle Drabek’s highly anticipated (and highly successful) MLB debut last year on April 2nd, 2011 versus the Minnesota Twins.  The big right hander is talented and has been highly touted by scouts since being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Let’s take a look at what I wrote one year ago along with some Pitch F/X data from his stellar outing versus the Twins:

Continue reading ‘Kyle Drabek Looks Strong Versus Yankees’

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