Posted tagged ‘Stroman’

The 2019 Blue Jays: A tale of two chapters

September 29, 2019

See, that wasn’t so bad!

Right???

Okay…when you look at the standings, it was pretty bad. But we knew this season was going to look like Plan 9 From Outer Space.

I embraced the pain; others chose to complain and bang their drums. Either way, I hope we can sit on a porch one day and laugh about the experience as we sip lemonade.

The 2019 season can be split into two chapters: Before Marcus Stroman was traded and after he was dealt.

As the trade deadline approached, there were storm clouds surrounding the team. There had been a couple of bright spots, but there was sense of dread. Stro – the most popular/polarizing player left from 2015-16 – was going to get traded. We knew it, he knew it, the league and his teammates knew it. Stro was dropping passive-aggressive grenades and the anti-Shapiro mob was sharpening their pitchforks.

Then the trade finally happened, followed by the premature trade of Aaron Sanchez. Jays Twitter was a scene of blinding fire, suffocating smoke and vile screaming.

And then…the smoke cleared, the sun came out and Bo Bichette started making history.

Believe me, I am NOT suggesting Stro was poisoning the clubhouse. I love the guy, his character and his brand! However, things felt and looked different once Marcus was sent to the Mets.

The transition was complete. All remaining band-aids had been ripped off. The roster was officially young and developing. Now, we could say it’s “Vladdy’s team” or “Bo’s team.” If one were to consider the rebuild as u-shaped, then on the evening of July 28, 2019 – when Stro was traded and Bichette was called up – the Blue Jays reached the bottom. The steep, uphill climb had begun.

I saw a team full of youthful energy. It was exciting and fun! Bo took off like a bullet train, Vladdy continued his gradual production, Cavan Biggio made history, Danny Jansen was figuring things out and Lourdes Gurriel and Reese McGuire were pleasant surprises. Sure, they went through a tough stretch in late August-early September. However, as Stephen Brunt pointed out a few weeks ago on Prime Time Sports, we were finally seeing some flickers of light.

The final two months of the season provided all kinds of reasons to watch the Jays, despite their record. My favourite moment was Bichette’s walk off home run, capping a dramatic victory over the Yankees.

As we look towards 2020, it’s important to be cautiously optimistic. There might be flickers of light, but they still have a long way to go before a window of opportunity opens. This season, they won 67 games. In 2020, I would be happy if they pick up 10-15 more victories (77-82).

The outfield corner sports are set, as are the infield positions and behind the plate. They need to figure out centrefield and DH over the offseason and during Spring Training. There are options on the current roster, but said options have been inconsistent. Rowdy Tellez’s struggles are also concerning.

However, the main priority needs to be on PITCHING; starting rotation and bullpen. Right now, Matt Shoemaker and Trent Thronton will likely be in the rotation, while the other three spots are up for grabs. Jacob Waguespack and Ryan Borucki are “question marks,” while Anthony Kay and T.J. Zeuch need to perform well in Spring Training. Don’t forget about the eventual arrival of Nate Pearson.

Ideally, Ken Giles will anchor the bullpen and I’d like to see Wilmer Font return, along with Ryan Tepera, Sam Gavigilo and Derek Law. After that, who knows?

What really scares me is how Bichette’s concussion will effect him. An injury like that is unpredictable. I’m praying he listens to his body and doesn’t try to overdo it as he prepares for 2020.

Things won’t be outstanding next season, but they (hopefully) won’t be as bad as this year. We’d all love to see a vast improvement. However, we must be patient and let the story play out. This team is still developing and I hope the youngsters build from their positive experiences and teachable moments.

Fingers crossed.

ER

***

Time for some “awards!”

Best Jays Hitter: Vladdy Guerrero Jr.
Best Jays Starter: Marcus Stroman
Best Jays Reliever: Ken Giles

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

Take a moment, say your goodbyes

September 24, 2018

Ever watch The Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor In Paradise?

When a contestant is “sent home,” Chris Harrison – the long-time host of the popular reality series – delivers a subtle command:

“Take a moment, say your goodbyes.”

As the Blue Jays prepare for the final week of a tumultuous regular season, perhaps it would be wise for all of us to take a moment and say our goodbyes.

The rebuild is well underway and there’s a strong chance that some familiar faces will not return next year.

By all accounts, John Gibbons will be formally relieved of his duties. Safe to assume the coaching staff will also be dismissed or reassigned.

And it won’t stop there.

Kevin Pillar could be playing for a different team next season. Same could be said about Marcus Stroman, Yangervis Solarte and Justin Smoak. Maybe some team would be willing to take a flyer on Kendrys Morales or Russell Martin and work something out with the Jays’ front office in regards to those contracts. I like Marco Estrada, but I would be surprised if he’s back next season.

That doesn’t mean such departures will actually occur. But with all the minor league talent that debuted this season, along with the talent we’ll see in 2019 (*cough* Vladdy Jr. *cough*), there isn’t enough space for everyone. Otherwise, the team won’t evolve.

It’s impossible to predict exactly who will stay and who will go. But one could certainly expect fewer pieces remaining from the teams of 2015-16 next year.

So if you’re heading to Skydome, Tropicana Field, the Boston Pizza at Front and John (where a lot of fans hang out, apparently) or watching/listening/following the final matches, take a moment and say your goodbyes.

It’s been one hell of a ride, but it’s now time to rebuild for (hopefully) something greater.

ER

First Round, 22nd Pick

September 17, 2018

Man on the radio,
I’m driving while the city sleeps.
Tell me about the new draft pick.

He’s from Medford and runs with a proverb:
Height doesn’t measure heart.
It gives him a chip on his shoulder and
the meaning of life.
His life.

Man on the radio,
What’s the kid’s story?

Imagine being told you’re too small.
He got angry and
worked to prove everyone wrong,
using a fastball, slider and confidence.

Man on the radio,
what does his future look like?

He will tear his anterior cruciate ligament, but recover faster than anyone else.
He will help his team to the promised land after a 22-year odyssey.
He will earn a degree and several playoff starts.
He will win gold for his country.
He will build a fashion empire and maintain a mansion.
He will have ups and downs.
He will face adversity and a recurring blister.
He will energize the fan base.

You might be turned off by his bravado,
but baseball isn’t fun without character.
His character.

Man on the radio,
How will it all end?

Let the story play out.
Let the story play out.

ER

31 items I reflected on and scribbled down (metaphorically, of course).

May 3, 2018

Yes, this post was inspired by Elliot Friedman’s 31 Thoughts. Mr. Friedman, if you or the legal team at Rogers is reading this, please don’t sue me. πŸ˜“

  1. Hell of a start for the Blue Jays. Given my low expectations for the season, it has been a pleasant surprise so far. April 2017 was like a meal at some sketchy diner that results in food poisoning. April 2018 felt like a meal at a sketchy diner that turns out to be the best kept secret in the city.
  2. Of course, things haven’t been great since they swept the Royals. Regardless, finishing April with a winning record is still a decent achievement when compared to 2017.
  3. Yes, it is early. And yes, I vividly remember the great run the 2009 Jays were on before everything nosedived in late May. I suggest we just enjoy what they’re doing now and deal with whatever happens when it happens.
  4. Yangervis Solarte has some power!!! Was not expecting that.
  5. Yangervis Solarte can dance!!! Was not expecting that.
  6. Not surprised with Randal Grichuk’s poor start. Wasn’t blow away with his St. Louis numbers. Maybe the slump is partially due to getting accustomed to a new team, division and stadium. Maybe it’s not. Fingers crossed he turns it around soon.
  7. Teoscar doesn’t want to go back to Buffalo. Fans don’t want to him sent back to Buffalo. In fact, if the Jays do option him back to the Bisons, it wouldn’t shock me if a giant roadblock is suddenly erected somewhere along on the QEW.
  8. Good to see the Humboldt Broncos’ logo displayed on the backstop a few weeks ago.
  9. I enjoyed hearing Josh Thole on the radio broadcasts. He wasn’t polished, but a part of me liked that. I’m still irritated about the way certain fans treated him.
  10. I like the bullpen. I like it a lot.
  11. John Axford was shaky at first, but has straightened out nicely. Very pleased to see this.
  12. Luke Maile came up with some big swings in April. Every time it occurred, I thought of this 2017 tweet from Andy Arias.
  13. If I was in the stands, I would’ve happily joined in on the standing ovation for Ryan Goins. Come @ me. I dare you.
  14. My friend and I had tickets for Monday, April 16. As you know, the match was cancelled due to falling ice. As annoying as it was – I was already en route when the game was formally cancelled – it was the right decision. A huge amount of gratitude to the stadium personnel who worked feverishly to try to get the game in, especially to the staff that went on the roof.
  15. The doubleheader on April 17 was the third such occurence in Skydome history. I was aware of the first one that took place in 1989. However, I have no recollection of the one in 2001 – October 5 against Cleveland, according to Baseball -Reference.com. It’s strange because I was at the final home game of 2001, which took place a couple of days later. Given that all this took place three weeks after 9/11, baseball was the last thing on everyone’s mind at the time.
  16. Overall, the rotation has been so-so. But they have given the team a chance to win, which is what any of us would want. With that in mind….
  17. No, I’m not worried about Stro. He’ll figure it out.
  18. No, I’m not worried about Devon. He’ll also figure it out.
  19. You know things aren’t terrible when you don’t see a lot of “Bring up Vladdy and Bo” tweets. Of course….it is early 😝
  20. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone complain about the wave yet.
  21. The Braves visit Toronto, June 19-20. Wouldn’t shock me if those games are sold out.
  22. Coming up with 31 talking points is hard. How does Friedman do this all the time?
  23. The weather sucked.
  24. Games on Facebook: Meh.
  25. Five-minute condensed games on Facebook: πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘
  26. I like Skydome’s new “value” menu.
  27. Recently, Mike Wilner posted a photo of a mantra Curtis Granderson wrote inside his hat: “Don’t think. Have fun.” Two simple sentences, four words. One profound point made.
  28. Speaking of Granderson….can I add my name to the list of fans who are grateful he’s on the team?
  29. Shoutout to my favourite hot dog vendor: Ted’s Gourmet, at the corner of Front and John.
  30. Wishing the very best to Danny Farquhar. Speedy and successful recovery.
  31. #TorontoStrong #HumboldtStrong

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


%d bloggers like this: