Posted tagged ‘russ atkins’

Short, scribbled thoughts about the trades that pissed you all off

August 7, 2019

Yup, last week was nuts. Anyway…

  • Stro’s trade made sense. Would’ve been a waste of his talent to keep him while the Jays are still rebuilding.
  • The deal with Houston is puzzling. Aaron Sanchez was finally starting to build his value back up. If that value continued to rise, he would’ve likely yielded a higher return during the off-season or at next year’s trade deadline. That’s why dealing him now feels premature.
  • The focus should be on pitching. That’s why acquiring Derek Fisher was also puzzling. Russ Atkins really, really, REALLY wanted him and was willing to pay a high price. Poor Fisher is going to be scrutinized to death by this angry fanbase; so here’s hoping he lives up to the potential that Atkins envisions. Reminds me of when AA sent Travis Snider – very popular with fans – to Pittsburgh for Brad Lincoln.
  • I’m glad the small gambles they took on Sogard, Phelps and Hudson yielded/will yeild some younger talent.
  • Of course, it’s very sad to say goodbye to the players that were dealt away. However, I’m thrilled they all get to play for teams making strong playoff pushes, especially Stro, Sanchez and Joe Biagini. They deserve it!
  • Not surprisingly, many fans – aka the anti-Shapiro crowd – were furious with the return the Jays got. Before Anthony Kay, Simeon Woods Richardson and the other acquisitions even reported to their new teams, it seemed like some fans were already labeling them as busts. I understand the anger, but it is absolutely RIDICULOUS to declare these new players as failures before they have a chance to actually fail; if they actually do fail. Honestly, it didn’t matter who the front office got in return. The anti-Shapiro crowd wasn’t going to like it. It was pre-determined.

To be honest, Jays Twitter really pisses me off at times. But that’s for another post….maybe.

ER

Unreal: The Marcus Stroman Era

July 30, 2019

Where to begin?

June 2012: I’m driving home, listening to Jays Talk. It’s the night of the MLB Draft.

Mike Wilner introduces the Jays’ first round pick and proceeds to interview him. This was my introduction to Marcus Stroman; my introduction to Height Doesn’t Measure Heart.

The bravado and confidence instantly hit me. This kid had a chip on his shoulder and a desire to be the greatest pitcher ever. My attention was caught.

I fell in love with his swagger that night. And to this day, I still love it.

There’s certainly a group of fans who loathed that Stro swag. I like to think those individuals represent a segment of Toronto sports fans who expect every single athlete to perform, say little and stay in their lane. Believe me, there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you expect everyone to follow that example then a) you’re going to be disappointed more often and b) it dulls things up.

Whether you liked him or not, baseball is much cooler with Marcus Stroman. You need a strong personality like his. It enhances the drama and adds flavour to the narrative. Take that out and while the sport maintains a level of fun and excitement, it looks robotic. Even the not-so-subtle jabs he’s thrown at Mark Shapiro and Russ Atkins on Twitter have been entertaining.

We should talk about all that “commotion.”

Stro’s greatest asset and his greatest flaw is that he cares a lot. What he specifically cares about is for another article. Make no mistake though; he is PASSIONATE. That passion is beneficial in some areas and causes problems in others. That’s why you won’t see him hanging out with Shapiro and Atkins at a New York City nightclub in the next decade or so.

Similar to a lot of Blue Jay fans, perhaps Stro didn’t want to let go of 2015-16. Can’t blame him at all. It’s hard coming down from that mountain. Some accept and embrace fate. Some do it kicking and screaming. Of course, we’ll never know what actually happened or what was said. Our personal biases will simply fill in the blanks.

When it was evident the Jays needed a rebuild, I hoped Stro would be one of the few players from 2015-16 still on the roster when things turned around. But once the rebuild was in full effect, I made peace with the notion that keeping Stro would hinder the team’s growth.

It’s a classic battle of head vs. heart, with my noggin coming out on top.

I would love it if Stro was signed to a long-term deal. However, my biggest fear is that his best years would be while the team was still rebuilding.

Hate to say it, but it would’ve been counter-productive to keep Stro. If his stock is high, it was worth trying to obtain some younger talent in exchange. It’s similar to what happened with Roy Halladay ten years ago.

We all wanted Doc to stay, but while his productivity was at the top, the Jays as a whole were sliding to the bottom and needed to rebuild. It wasn’t fair to Doc who – at that point – had never tasted postseason action and ultimately requested to be traded. Keeping him would’ve slowed the team’s growth.

It’s great how Stro embraced the city, but he should pitch for a winner. And yes, the team he was traded to is hanging on by a very thin thread. Nevertheless, I certainly wish him the best of luck with the Mets and thank the heavens he’s not wearing Yankee pinstripes.

HDMH will always have a significant place in Toronto. From his debut, to the freak injury, coming back from that injury, being part of the magic that was 2015-16 and being one of the few bright spots during seasons of transition and development. Marcus Stroman’s narrative was simply unreal. He fell in love with the city and the city – at least a good portion of it – fell in love with him.

ER

Yes, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is a gift from the heavens….but could we take a breath?

March 11, 2019

I’m really excited about Vladdy Jr.

The kid is a total stud. I don’t need to tell you how he tore it up in New Hampshire and Buffalo in 2018. His production made us all salivate.

We saw the videos. We constantly checked for updates. We all soiled ourselves when he hurt his leg last year and again this past Sunday when the Blue Jays announced the oblique injury.

That walk-off homerun he hit in Montreal against St. Louis last year was incredible! Not even Hollywood’s greatest script writers could have written a better moment. And that was only a spring training game!

Yes, Vladdy Jr. is a gift from the heavens. But while I’m eager to see him in the big leagues, a part of me is also very hesitant.

To be honest, I’m uncomfortable with all the hype. Part of me drools when I think about his potential and wants him on the 25-player roster yesterday. But there’s also a part of me that channels my inner Russ Atkins and prefers a little a more seasoning; Vladdy being “Major League ready.”

So collectively, maybe we all need to take a breath.

I’ve never liked the word, nor the concept of “prospects.” Anyone in the minor leagues system has a chance to have a successful career at the major league level.

I know, I know. It’s not as simple as that. Apologies for generalizing.

But seriously, why value certain talent over others? Sure, some talent are better and show signs of being “ready” earlier than others. But at its very core, it’s a crapshoot. Why else would the MLB draft require 40 rounds? It’s for teams to hedge their bets.

Again, I’m really sorry for generalizing.

Like anyone else in the farm system, Vladdy will either make it or he won’t. Putting him on such a high pedestal and placing grand expectations on him is concerning. I’m all for being optimistic, but can’t we do it cautiously? He’s only turning 20 in a few days!

The demand and expectations make me shudder a tiny bit. It reminds me of a time when some were screaming for Brett Lawrie to be called up.

Remember all of that excitement? Years later, Lawrie is under 30, has been out of baseball for a few years – I really hope his tryout with Milwaukee works out – and his biggest claim to fame was having Red Bull inspired energy and being part of the Josh Donaldson trade.

So let me pose this question: Is it really terrible if we wait until after the regular season starts for Vladdy to be called up?

The second he makes his MLB debut, the 29 others club will start penning – if they haven’t already – journal entries called “How to get Vladdy out.” I don’t see anything wrong in delaying or slowing down that process. And wouldn’t it be nice if Vladdy becomes a terrific infielder, in addition to being a superstar slugger? Baseball America acknoweleges it.

Okay….enough of this bullshit. This isn’t about being Major League ready or working on his defence. Vladdy’s arrival is about one thing: SERVICE TIME!

This is what some refer to as the “business of baseball.” Call him up after the regular season starts and the Jays get additional team control before he tastes free agency.

Some scream “service time be damned! Give the fans what they want.”

I’d love it if Vladdy got called up last year or – if he wasn’t injured – made this season’s opening day roster. But assuming he chooses to sign with another team years from now – hello, inferriority complex – wouldn’t it be beneficial to get as many years and as much out of him as possible? Squeeze those lemons, dammit!!! Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Yes, manipulated service time is ugly and benefits the front office more than the player and fans. There is a reason why the MLBPA is keeping thier eye on the Jays. That’s also why this oblique injury – in a sick and twisted way – creates better optics. Now there’s an excuse to delay his big league promotion, even though no one is fooled.

Just know this:

Eventually, Vladdy will be called up. We’re just going to have to be – I’m sure you’ll start eye-rolling – patient.

When he does make his big league debut, let’s not rush judgement. Let’s also not overreact about – and I can’t stress this enough – his size and weight. You just can’t expect a young man like Vladdy to be perfect or know how to conduct himself right away. He’s technically still a teenager.

Above all else, PLEASE put aside your need for instant gratification and let the story organically play out.

ER

Damn! I was selfishly hoping the Blue Jays wouldn’t trade Russell Martin

January 14, 2019

I know that’s ridiculous; possibly idiotic. But part of me was hoping Russell would be kept for the sole purpose of mentoring Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire; similar to the role Curtis Granderson played in 2018.

Of course, that would be a very expensive mentor. Given that Mark Shapiro and Russ Atkins are scorching the Earth as part of the rebuilding process, it makes sense to get something in return for Martin. After all, the Jays are paying his salary, despite the trade. I’m sure the front office also doesn’t want a repeat of the Josh Donaldson saga. Martin probably wants to actually play as well.

I have no interest in the numbers. That’s for the insiders, pundits and professional bloggers to crunch. When I think of Russell Martin, the first words that come to mind are confidence and professionalism.

Sitting in the left field seats gave me the opportunity to watch him prepare for a match. I was transfixed by him running from the dugout to the outfield in full catching gear. He’d go through his drills before working with that day’s starter. It’s hard to articulate, but I never had to worry about what was happening behind the plate.

I spent the last few days thinking of my favourite Russell Martin memories. That homerun against the Yankees in late 2015 will probably be his defining moment with the team.

It was Yom Kippur that day. My family and I were breaking our fast at a relative’s house. Normally, we’d sit around the living room chatting. Not this time.

The majority of us gathered in front of the TV. The atmosphere was incredibly tense; but when Russell connected, we all exploded in jubilation! Of course, we weren’t the only ones: “RUSSELL! RUSSELL! RUSSELL! RUSSELL!”

Other moments come to mind:

– The errant throw in game five of the 2015 ALDS that almost flushed a magical season down the toilet; followed by his thanking the heavens for Jose Bautista’s iconic bat flip homerun.

– The hot streak he went on in August 2016 when the rest of the team was struggling.

– Game three of the 2016 ALDS; a first inning dinger, followed by the fielder’s choice that ultimately led to the Donaldson Dash.

Now his career has come full circle as he heads back to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He deserves a chance to play for a contender. Hopefully, he’ll help L.A. finally get over that hump. Having a chance to catch Clayton Kershaw is also a nice bonus.

Maybe it was his connection to Ontario and Quebec. Maybe it was because he’s just a few weeks older than me. Maybe it was using “Courage” as one of his walk-up songs. I’m just thrilled Russell Martin spent four seasons with the Jays. Worth every penny; even the ones that will cover his 2019 season.

ER

Troy Tulowitzki was the turning point and worth every penny, gosh darn it!

December 11, 2018

So I wasn’t surprised Tulo was released. Mark Shapiro and Russ Atkins are forging their own path, even if it means scorched earth and paying a 34-year-old $38 million over the next few seasons to not show up to Dunedin.

Whatever. I’d still pull the trigger on that trade.

Tulo’s arrival midway through 2015 – along with David Price’s arrival a few days later – was the turning point. His mere presence gave the Jays an incredible boost. Before the trade, the team was hanging by a thread. Tulo put on the uniform and that Jays team took off like a rocket!

Not going to get into his numbers or the injuries. I’m perfectly content with the 2015-16 playoff banners and the memories.

If you’re into the whole “what has he done latley” argument, that’s cool. You’re entitled to feel that way. I just prefer to put more heart and emotion into my fandom.

Thank you, Tulo.

ER

Josh Donaldson: He brought the rain and it was magical AF

September 3, 2018

Josh Donaldson’s tenure with the Blue Jays was a blessing. The events surrounding his departure really, really, REALLY suck. However, this is not as tragic as some have made it out to be.

Josh Donaldson was not going to finish 2018 in a Jays uniform. I made peace with this notion well before the season started. Unless the team was a legit contender for the second wild card spot, this was it for the Bringer of Rain.

I prayed he would be traded during the off-season. Prayed the Jays would get a king’s ransom in exchange. I get why they waited for the middle of the regular season – contending teams would be increasingly desperate to land Donaldson’s services and therefore, empty their shelevs of young, developing talent.

Of course, that didn’t happen. Josh gingerly walked off the field in May, never to return wearing a Jays uniform; his value drastically fell.

Who’s to blame? Nobody.

Donaldson didn’t intend to miss a significant chunk of the season. Mark Shapiro, Russ Atkins and the rest of front office didn’t anticipate something like this to happen, nor would they want it to happen.

Of course, social media is more than happy to point fingers.

On social media, Shapiro and Atkins have screwed up everything!!!! Some have claimed they have set the team back by decades. Others have filed a non-confidence motion. Heck, if Shapiro and Atkins saved 1000 orphans from a towering inferno, they’d still be villanized.

So let’s take a breath.

The Blue Jays are rebuilding. It has been evident for a while. Whether you like it or not, they are a team in transition. Keeping Josh Donaldson would be counter-productive. A player of his caliber and age – if healthy, obviously – would naturally yield younger, developing talent. It’s not a perfect formula, but it only makes sense to collect several “prospects” in exchange for Donaldson and hope some – if not all – live up to their full potential.

The only mistake Shapiro and Atkins made was not trading Donaldson before the season. An error that defines the concept of hindsight.

Here’s something else to consider: Do you really believe Donaldson wanted to be a Blue Jay after 2018?

Think about it. He’s in his early 30s and about to become a free agent. He wants to win now. He expects to win now. Why would he stay in Toronto and endure a rebuild that doesn’t have a definitive timeline? Donaldson has earned the right to play for whoever he wants; so the Jays might as well get something for him, even if it’s unfortunately not a king’s ransom.

While Donaldson and Atkins have both paid the appropriate amount of lip service post-trade, we may never know what actually happened behind the proverbial closed doors. Maybe there were diagreements. Maybe feelings were hurt.

There will be some who desperately need to know what occurred for their own agendas. But for me….I just don’t give a damn.

When I think about Josh Donaldson, I won’t think about his departure. I’ll think of the man who told the world that this was the “get it done league.”

I’ll think of the man who dove into the first few rows at Tropicana Field to catch a foul ball.

I’ll think of the man who crushed a walk-off home run at the final home game of the 2015 season, sending the crowd into a frenzy; including yours truly from my right field seat in the 200s.

I’ll think of the man who knocked in the tying run in game five of the 2015 ALDS, setting the stage for Jose Bautista’s iconic bat flip.

I’ll think of the man – who I witnessed from my perch in section 525 – dive gracefully across home plate, clinching game three and an ALDS series sweep in 2016.

Damn right his name should be added to the level of excellence. He was the American League’s most valuable player in 2015. The only other Blue Jay who won AL MVP is already on the LOE.

Josh Donaldson was the glue, the missing piece, the magic tonic. He brought the rain and it was MAGICAL! His unfortunate departure will never overshadow his impact.

I really hope things work out for him in Cleveland and of course, with the Blue Jays’ long-term plan. Seeing a popular player get traded is never pleasant.

Just remember: It’s going to be okay.

ER

Ironically, I share a similar opinion as Cathall Kelly. But I choose to be more respectful and less fatalistic.

March 29, 2018

Rest assured, this is not a critique of Mr. Kelly’s recent torpedo at the Blue Jays. These are just my thoughts for Opening Day. They’re pleasant, but not glowing.

Anyway……Hello regular season.

Whenever someone asks me how the Blue Jays will fare, I always like to give two opinions. 2018 is no exception:

Subjectively, they’ll finish 162-0 and capture the World Series title.

Objectively, if a number of factors work out on the positive side and they’re not heavily effected by injuries, they could compete for the second wild card spot. Otherwise, don’t make any plans for postseason baseball.

We can crunch numbers and analyze everything to death. But nothing is 100% certain, especially for on-field performance. So like everyone else – whether they like to admit it or not – I prefer to go with my gut.

And my gut says….there’s likely going to be a dip.

I sense a transition process between the current 25-man roster and the sexy, young minor league talent everyone is excited about. It won’t be a linear transition, but one that’s u-shaped instead. Couldn’t tell you how long it will last. Maybe a few seasons, maybe more than that. But it’s going to likely happen.

Ideally, I’d prefer if the transition began now. However, Mark Shapiro and Russ Atkins feel they can put it off for the year.

It’s not a terrible decision. Teams could pay more at the non-waiver trade deadline. And if the Jays are clearly not a contender by the end of July, my hope is that they would get a nice return for Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and a king’s ransom for Josh Donaldson.

Therein lies one of the major storylines of 2018: What’s going to happen with the Bringer of Rain?

I love Donaldson and very grateful for what he’s done on the field. However, I would be SHOCKED if he signs a long-term deal with the Jays.

If there’s actually a dip or any form of rebuilding, it wouldn’t make sense to keep him. It also wouldn’t make sense for Donaldson wanting to stay if the next few seasons are going to be lean, with a lot of unknowns thrown in as well. Donaldson will be a free agent at the end of 2018 and he’s earned the right to field offers and seek out the best deal. It pains me to type this, but I just don’t see that happening with him and the Jays.

In fact, the only players on the current roster that should remain with the club through any kind of transition is Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna and Devon Travis. That’s not a gurantee either.

So let the Yankees and Red Sox have their fun, if it turns out that way. The Blue Jays are cultivating for the future and if Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette actually live up to their hype, combined with consistent production from Alford, Urena, Hernandez, Borucki, etc., then we are in for a treat. Heck, look at what rebuilding has done for the Astros.

Of course, I could be completely off the mark. If the Jays actually make the playoffs in 2018, I will happily admit that I jumped to conclusion.

It could happen. Part of me hopes it does.

ER


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