Tuesday, August 8, 2017

An open letter to Jose Bautista

Watching Jose Bautista try to make the most out of this season has been sad.  He is in great shape and can do most of the things he once did.  But bat speed is no longer there.  The progression of a major league player is to increase girth and reduce mobility.  As he ages, the player tends to work less on foot speed and more on maintaining his bat speed.  A perfect example of this is Carlos Beltran.  Beltran was once a Gold Glove centre fielder for the Royals and Mets.  Beltran has focused on strength and power over worrying about fetching a ball in the rightfield corner.  Jose loves proving people wrong.   His entire career is built on doing just that, why would the latter portion of his career be any different.  Last year the critiques were out in full force claiming that Bautista could no longer man rightfield.    Bautista went about spending the off season proving that he could still play the outfield, not realizing that defense is not why he is on the field.  Watching tape of Bautista from 2011 and 2012, you can see a big difference in his size, strength and bat speed.

Watching the video you can tell he is bigger 2012, the swing is quicker and his ability to cover high and low pitches is drastically different.  And I am not suggesting anything nefarious.   Bautista is a stand up guy and has earned everything the right way.   But he needs to focus on a strength program that will generate bat speed over foot speed.  As we age, father time reminds us all that we are human.  Superman Jose has defied the odds until now.  The MLB is full of guys who used to be fast but now just hit, its the reason why they created the DH.  Harold Baines, Dave Parker, Don Baylor, Chili Davis and Dave Winfield were all great defensive players.  But the last 5-7 yrs of their careers were focused on run production.  Let the young kids run it down while they bang it out.

Jose, its not too late.  Focus on the power and let the rooks man rightfield.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Jays Bullpen might be its saving grace - Beat Yankees

The biggest difference from last year to this year has to be the starting pitching.  The Blue Jays have lost every member of the rotation, save Marco Estrada.  And he has not been himself.  This has been a very challenging year for a team that is built around homers and starting pitching.  When you lose the ERA leader in the American League.  You know its going to be a tough go. 

But the Bullpen has really stepped up and more so of late.  Leone, Loup and Barnes have been terrific.  Roberto Osuna, somehow won the reliever of the month for June.  I think that was called the rolaid relief award.  On the verge of a mental break down, he was tremendous.  Its definitely not an easy job by any stretch.  The starting rotation has suffered so bad, they needed to steal pitchers from the Bullpen.  Joe Biagini was elevated to starter, and that has had mixed results.  Joe is a big league pitcher, but that doesn't mean he is a starter.  Taking 2 of 3 from the Yankees, was an important step in getting back to 500.  But we must be sure to understand, they are not as good as most of the American League East.  Its time to make the right moves for the future.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Blue Jays acquire Miguel Montero - Nice addition

Do the Blue Jays need another Catcher?  Well in a word.  YAHHH!

Not that Luke Maile isn't a quality catcher.  He is a much better receiver than a hitter.   The Blue Jays are in need of some hitting from behind the dish.   Russell Martin misses too many games for the Jays to run Luc out there 45-60 times a year.   Montero has proven he can swing the bat.  He hits big home runs and calls a good game.  His inability to throw out runners will be less of an issue in the homer happy American League.  He will also make a nice addition to the order and potential bat off the bench.    Maile is never going to be much of an offensive contributor.  That is just not his forte.  He is a great receiver and pitchers enjoy working with him.    In a league by runs scored, where the Yankees and Red Sox continue to pound out homer after homer.  The Blue Jays need to add runs where ever they can and a veteran bat off the bench or starting every 4th day would be a drastic improvement on our situation.

Is Montero a good team mate?  Its funny, no-body is saying that his comments are untrue.  Jake Arrieta is slow to the dish.  Does he care if people are running on him?  It appears not.  So, Montero's comments were not without merit.  The problem is, the Cubs are not performing to expectations. He was an easy guy to point out and remove from the equation.  Arrieta needs to do a better job holding runners.  When his stuff was better, it didn't matter nearly as much as it does now.  Being mortal again, he is much more beat able.  That said, its never good to air your dirty laundry.

Blue Jays should bring in Montero for the next couple months and then call up Luke for Sept when rosters expand.

And for all those CUBS fans who have forgotten. Just remember last fall when Miguel Montero did this against the Dodgers.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The uncase for Justin Smoak for the All Star Game - #SmoakTheVOTE

So, last year Canada got Michael Saunders to the All Star Game.  Fans were excited and he got the 26th position to the All Star Game.  Now I am all for getting a guy what he deserves, but Michael Saunders was a 1st half wonder.  Canada was so pumped up to be part of the Blue Jay fever that they voted for Saunders in droves.   If you haven't heard, Michael Saunders was released by the Phillies last week.  He definitely was not an All Star, he finished the season with 57 RBI.  Here is a list of the other names on the list from last year.

  • 2B Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers
  • 3B Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
  • 2B Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
  • OF Michael Saunders, Toronto Blue Jays
  • OF George Springer, Houston Astros
Okay, so what name doesn't make sense.  Now,  its not like these guys aren't going to make other All Star Games.  But Longoria has only been to 3 Games in his career.  He ended last year with 36 homers and should have been there.  That said, he has been.  Here are guys that had amazing careers and never went to one game. 

  • Kirk Gibson
  • Tim Salmon
  • Travis Hafner
  • Tony Phillips
 This tells you how hard it can be too make an All Star Game.  It's also a reason why the average Blue Jay fan should wait a couple seasons to see if ever Justin Smoak is an All Star or a 1 year wonder.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Roberto Osuna sadly missed - Shows how important the closer role is in MLB

As the Royals lose game 2 of the 3 game series with the KC Royals.  People were asking, were is Roberto Osuna?  The Jays young closer has been a stalwart of the Blue Jays Bullpen.  People are starting to realize the need and importance for a top arm at the back end of the game.  From Tepera to Grilli, there wasn't an answer as the Jays coughed up a 4-1 lead to lose 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth.  Ryan Tepera even conceding that he was over throwing. 

Osuna has been lights out since he broke camp two years ago with the big club. His 95+ MPH fastball and 2 out pitches have made him one of the top closers in Baseball.

Unfortunately, along with the closer role comes mental anguish.  Being the guy that is required to come in and shut the door is a lot of stress for a young player.  Osuna's recent assertion that he was just not himself is concerning.  Mental health is a struggle for alot of us and is not something to be taken lightly.

The importance of a closer can't be understated.  The current Washington Nationals would be very happy with Roberto Osuna as their closer.  The years of trying to find a closer from another organization for years from Cliff Polite to Jason Frasor or Brandon League.  Every year there was another guy vying to be the Guy.  Lets hope Roberto feels better soon.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dwight Smith Jr - Blue Jays Prospect - How good can he be?

The Blue Jays have a shortfall in MLB ready prospects, most teams have 4 or 5 guys who are ready and waiting for an opportunity.  The Jays have basically Dwight Smith and that's it.  Who is Dwight Smith Jr? Well his dad won the rookie of the year in 1989 for the Chicago Cubs.  He was a great hitter with decent speed.  Sounds kind of like his dad.   Dwight Jr was a decent prospect up until this spring, he impressed in Spring Training and was sent to Triple A Buffalo to start that year.  In Double the last couple years he didn't show much power or average.  Hitting in the 260's two years in a row, he definitely wasn't setting the house on fire.  That said, people liked his game and intangibles.  Dwight knows the game and how its played, he isn't going to be a burner, or win a hr title or batting title.  But he will probably hit 280-300, steal 15 bags and 18-22 hr's.  Play great defense and be a great teammate.    

He is coach-able and a good guy to have in the club house.  I have too believe that Jays management knew they were getting this guy when they decided not to bring in a free agent for Left Field.

My rank on Dwight Smith Jr was a C+ at the beginning of the season.  I would rate him a B now with upside.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rangers beat up on Stro Show and Jays - Split Series

Marcus Stroman had a tough outing and the Jays couldn't find any middle relief to keep them in the game.    A major league season is full of games when the starting pitcher just doesn't have his A Game.  Today was one of those outings and who entered to fill the void?  Cesar Valdez.  Who?  Yes, Cesar Valdez.  Cesar has an ERA of 8.71 - his job today was to shut down the Rangers.  Kind of like what Dennis Lamp would in the mid 80's or Mauro Gozzo did for the 89 Blue Jays, he may have only won 4 games that year.  But if you remember that season went down to the final game.

This middle relief has been a problem for the 2017 Jays.  Guys like Dermody, Valdez and Beliveau the guys who need to stand up and keep the Jays in the Game.  That is the biggest difference in where we are and where we need to be.  6 or 7th inning onward, the Jays have been terrific.  Danny Barnes and Ryan Tepera have been a god send.  Barnes has 3 pitches he can throw at any time and he pitches to both sides of the plate.  Tepera can bring the gas.  His slider is nasty and turns hitters into guessers.

Today's game shows how the Jays continue need some long relief, someone who can bridge 3 innings and keep them in the game.  Both the front and the back end of the staff is excellent.