Posted tagged ‘spring training’

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

Seriously, I really want Aaron Sanchez to get his groove back

February 25, 2019

Honestly, I’m not dreading the upcoming regular season. Yes, the Jays are likely going to be akin to the 2011/2012/2013 Houston Astros. It’s going to be ugly, save for Vladdy’s debut. But I’m okay with that. With a pair of rose-coloured glasses, I intend to treat 2019 as a season of development and teachable moments.

In fact, the only amount of worry I have is for Aaron Sanchez. Seriously, I really want Aaron Sanchez to get his groove back.

Do you recall Spring Training 2016? Sanchez showed up with 25 pounds of added muscle and a very confident disposition. The kid wanted to be a starter and was determined to make it happen. Don’t know what it was about his work effect, but my gut was telling me we were in store for something special.

Not only did Sanchez deliver, but he captained a starting rotation that carried the entire team to another exciting playoff run.

Sanchez was an artist out on the mound. You’d fall to your knees and weep at how he dominated the competition. No inning limit – though a compelling storyline – was going to stop him. He got the Jays into the postseason and picked up an ERA title along the way. Aaron Sanchez was an elite starter.

And then….he was robbed at gunpoint by a blister and a suitcase. We were robbed too.

2017 and 2018 were rough years for Sanchez. Having him on the sidelines was my biggest frustration two seasons ago and the one of the biggest reasons why they finished with 76 wins.

Imagine if Sanchez was fully healthy in 2017. Maybe they would’ve had at least 10 more wins. Maybe they would’ve competed for a wild card spot. Maybe things would be different.

Alas, dust in the wind.

So here is Aaron Sanchez caught in a baseball version of purgatory. It seems like there’s a chasm between what he was in 2016 and where he is now. I’m just hoping he can close that gap.

A recent Shi Davidi article on Sportsnet.ca highlighted his strategy. He’s studying film and correcting bad habits caused by last year’s finger injury. It reminds me of that same determination from 2016.

If he can regain his form, his path will be clearer. Of course, that path can lead one of two ways: Either he’ll be an integral part of the rebuild or he’ll be traded for younger talent. I’m actually conflicted with what I’d prefer. But I know this: A healthy and optimum performing Aaron Sanchez will make things less murky. The less murkier, the more he can move forward.

I don’t want him to be a one hit wonder. I don’t want him to be lost in obscurity. The Jays can lose games and be the joke of the league. That won’t bother me. What will be upsetting is if Sanchez’s once-promising career fades away.

It can’t happen. Just like Ricky Romero, it would be tragically unfair.

ER

Spring Training Haikus: The “Tradition” Continues

February 11, 2019

construction begins
at the spring training complex
where the earth is scorched

the new manager
leads a rebuilding roster
with future promise

fans want young Vladdy
to address his potential
and answer the hype

where does Travis fit
in a packed middle infield
with many options

pitching has questions
mixed with low expectations
and hopes for good health

ER

PS: Here’s another round of Dimsum Stories.

Retro Blue Jays – Dunedin of the 80s (and 2012)

March 8, 2018

Posted by PeterGross144, Pat French and AllBlueJays (via MLB).

I’ve never attended spring training in Dunedin and I’m jealous of anyone who has. Sure, I’ve watched spring training games in person – 2000; a double header between the Jays and Cleveland at Skydome. But despite the installed palm tree behind the outfield wall and a few players jogging on the warning track, it just wasn’t the same.

Spring training in Dunedin is one of the few things that hasn’t changed since 1977. The Jays have reinvented their identity multiple times, there have been thousands of players who have worn the uniform and the front office has undergone a few transformations. But every spring, despite the state of the team, our focus has always turned towards Dunedin.

Even the word “Dunedin” conjures up all those fuzzy, cliched feelings associated with spring training: The near-arrival of warm weather, optimism and a fresh start.

So in that spirit, here are a few videos where Dunedin and spring training are featured prominently.

The first two are from long-time broadcaster Peter Gross from his days with City TV.

I first saw this years ago on Big League Stew. Gross uses a Michael Jackson classic to preview the 1984 Blue Jays. Can you spot Buck Martinez?

Then Gross does a feature on Dave Stieb. The ladies in this video might’ve been impressed, but Tony Kubek and Joey McLaughlin definitely weren’t.

Had to include this TSN promo. Where else can you find Kelly Gruber admiring a pre-season dinger?

Finally, one of my favourites: J.P. Arencibia and Ricky Romero take us on a tour of the Jays’ spring training complex in 2012. I bet you’ll smile seeing young Eric Thames; maybe John Farrell too(?).

[Just a link for the last one. The ability to embed the video was disabled.]

ER

Spring Training Haikus! A February tradition (at least in my head) since 2016

February 14, 2018

This could be the last
spring training for Donaldson
in fair Dunedin

The middle infield
is giving me great concern
due to its poor health

Pray for the finger
on Aaron Sanchez to be
blister free and safe

Joe Biagini
Should remain in the bullpen
where he’s suitable

Fifth starter auditions
shall take place in Dunedin.
Where’s Brett Anderson?

ER

Five haikus to celebrate the start of Spring Training

February 13, 2017

To those playing in
the World Baseball Classic:
Please do not get hurt

Joe Biagini
will be considered for a
future starting job

Are we taking bets
on who will start in leftfield
and two relief spots?

Angry Bautista
handled appropriately
can lead to great things

Salty is my pick
to backup Russell Martin.
He’s experienced

ER

Episode 63: They sure love baseball in Montreal

April 14, 2016

Over 100, 000 fans filled the Olympic Stadium for the Blue Jays’ final two spring training games. This outpouring of support and interest has reignited talk of whether MLB will return to Montreal.

Jared Book of BluebirdBanter.com joins DNJT to discuss what needs to happen and how a team in Montreal will affect the Jays.

Episode 63 Direct MP3 Download

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