Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Laffey Sent Down, Hech Coming Up?

Aaron Laffey has once again been sent to down to Las Vegas, but the corresponding move to fill the 25 man roster has yet to be announced. Adeiny Hech (Hech is what I will call him, as spelling his last name takes to much effort)is not in tonight's 51's line up, although it is because he is still away from the team getting his Canadian Visa; which he now has. There are a few options as to who could get the call, so I'm just going to go over quickly who they are, and why they should, or should not be coming to Toronto.

Yan Gomes- Cannot be called up yet, his 10 day waiting period is not over yet.
Eric Thames- Same as Gomes. He isn't coming back up yet.
Moises Sierra- Would be a candidate if his numbers were solid, but hitting .278 in the PCL with an OBP .348, isn't that good. Probably will get called up if there is an injury a little later on this season, depending on how Anthony Gose does this season.
Adam Lind- One of the three players that have the best chance along side Vlad and Hech. Lind is hitting .375 so far in Las Vegas, and has seemed to find his stroke once again. Could take over at first, although David Cooper has done nothing to lose the job.
Vlad Guerrero- Vlad has been ripping up High A, but it's High A, so he likely has to go to AA or AAA before making the jump to the Jays.
Adeiny Hech- Will only get the call if it is a long term gig...probably. I could see KJ go to the DL, and both Hech and Vlad come up to fill those two spots.

I can't be the only person that actually has no idea who will get the call, because there really is no clear cut option. Whatever the move is, I'm sure it will be a smart one, unless Carlos Perez gets the call, because that just makes no sense.

Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel has accused the Jays of stealing signs tonight, but this is just ridiculously stupid, so I won't write anything about it. Of course, JPA has already tweeted about it, so you can read his brief sarcastic opinion here.

Who do you think is going to be called up? Tell us by leaving a comment below with a name and reason!

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Blue Jays vs. Yankees recap – May 16 & 17 2012

Yan Gomes receives game ball from JP Arencibia
Picture via - Yahoo Sports

Blue Jays vs. Yankees recap – May 16 & 17
May 16thPitching Battle – Kyle Drabek (2-4) VS Hiroki Kuroda (3-4)

Before the game on May 16th, there were some questions that needed to be answered in my mind for the Blue Jays. 
  1. How would Brett Lawrie rebound after his incident on from just 24 hours ago?  He had two utterly ridiculous calls go against him at the plate during the bottom of the 9th by the home umpire.  All because he is 21 and apparently showed up the umpire by beginning to trot to 1st on a pitch that was in the left handed batter’s box and he perceived as ball four.  To begin the game, the same umpire – Bill Miller, who was at home plate last night, was the 3rd base umpire.  There were no incidents between them, so it looks like they spoke earlier.
  2. Could Kyle Drabek turn things around after losing his previous 4 starts? And How would he do in his 4th start against the Yankees – he is 3-1 heading into this game against them
There is an interesting thing to note before the game - the batting order: Eric Thames is batting 2nd, Brett Lawrie (who is appealing his suspension) is batting 5th, Edwin Encarnacion is playing 1st, Adam Lind at DH and Omar Viquel starts at SS.

In the 1st inning, Kyle Drabek opened the game by striking out Curtis Granderson, then walked Cano but got Arod to ground out.  He is off to a great start.  In the bottom of the inning, Jose Bautista fouled off a pitch that almost went into the 500 level, but ended up striking out on a breaking ball, perhaps he is getting his swing back.  In the 2nd inning,  with Derek Jeter off for the day, and Brett Lawrie at bat, Robinson Cano dropped the ball that was tossed to him by Jason Nix, Edwin (the runner) was out, but Lawrie was safe.  Colby Rasmus strikes out but with Lawrie on J.P. Arencibia hits a 2-run homer.  2-0 Blue Jays

In the 3rd inning, Eric Thames hit a 2 out double, Jose Bautista walks and Edwin hit a HR to CF - 5-0 Jays.  In the 4th Inning, the Blue Jays collect some hits and score some more.  JP Arencibia doubles with 1 out, Omae Vizquel drew a walk with 2 outs, which drew a mound visit from Yankees pitching coach.  Kelly Johnson hit a single between 3rd and SS, the throw from Ibanez was on time, but Arencibia had a perfect slide into home n-  6-0 Jays

So far through 5 innings, Drabek has shutout the Yankees, allowing just 1 hit.  He has been in command and has shown great pace throughout the game.  He has looked great so far.  Drabek gets some more run support after the Blue Jays 3rd home run by Jose Bautista HR to LF – 7-0 Blue Jays.

There is a cool moment in the 6th Inning, by the Yankees.  Robinson Cano hits his 300th career double to right, then Mark Teixeira hits his 1500th hit and Cano scores.  The ball took a wicked bounce off the astro turf and Encarnacion was unable to come up with it and the ball squirted into RF.  7-1 Blue Jays.  Drabek has now given up 1 run on 3 hits, 2 walks and 3 K’s.  In the bottom of that inning, JP Arencibia is at bat, Kuroda pitches his 100th pitch, and JP hits a single and is now a triple away from the cycle.  He also knocks Kuroda out of the game.  Clay Rapada in to face Adam Lind (lefty vs lefty).  He gets a strikeout and a double play to end the inning.

Kyle Drabek begins the 7th with his 4th strikeout, then walks the next batter – still looks like he is in control, but top of order his heading up and is at 99 pitches now.  He falls behind 3-0 to the 9th hitter and has now thrown 7 straight balls.  Luis Perez begins to warm up in the bullpen.   With one out, Omar Vizquel takes the ground ball hit by Curtis Granderson, under arms his throw to Kelly Johnson who trails the runner, but the runner is called out.  Blue Jays catch a break, but now have 2 outs.  Drabek strikes out Nick Swisher to end the inning; Yankees strand runners at 1st and 3rd

Kelly Johnson begins the Blue Jays 7th with a solo HR, his 100th of his career - 8-1 Blue Jays
Luis Perez begins the inning by walking two batters, then gets Andruw Jones to fly out to LF.  The Blue Jays look to be in command of this one.  The only question now is will JP hit for the cycle?

With Jays fans watching JP Arencibia’s at bat, with him needing a triple for the cycle, he hits a foul ball that looked like a triple when it left his bat.  He strikes out.  Adam Lind hits a single down the first base line, which might be a sign he is turning things around.  Cano makes up for his error in the 7th, by making a great double play to end the Jays 8th.  Fransico Cordero in to pitch the 9th - uh oh, not another blown save, wait, this isn’t a save opportunity, ok maybe we might be alright.

Cordero pitches a perfect 9th for only the 2nd time all season.  Russell Martin lined out to Center, D. Wise popped out and Curtis Granderson strikes out to end the game.  Blue Jays win 8-1.  Perhaps using Cordero in the 8th instead would be better.  

Final pitching lines - 
-          Drabek – 7 IP, 3 hits, 1 ER, 4 walks, 5 K’s
-          Kuroda – 5.0 IP, 8 hits, 7 ER, 2 walks, 6 K’s

May 17thPitching Battle – Drew Hutchison (3-1) VS Phil Hughes (3-5)

Again there is news to report before the game.  It appears Adam Lind has not turned things around quick enough for the Jays GM, and he has been demoted to triple-A.  Yan Gomes has been called up.  He will play 3rd base, and Brett Lawrie and the Blue Jays have dropped his appeal on his suspension. 
  1. So, how would Yan Gomes do in his call up, against the Yankees?  How is Adam Lind going to handle being demoted?  Adam Lind was the only Blue Jay to hit a home run off of Hughes going into this game, but they Jays hit 4 the day before, how will they do today?
  2. How will Hutchison handle the Yankees? 
In today’s batting order – Yunel Escobar is back batting 2nd again, Edwin is batting 4th, then Arencibia is 5th.  Ben Fransico gets the start at DH batting 6th, with Gomes batting 8th and Rajai Davis getting the start in Left. 

In the 1st inning, Robinson Cano doubles to left and scores Granderson.  Yankees 1-0.  Two innings later, the Blue Jays, get on the board.  Jose Bautists hits his 10th home run, and drives in Yunel.  Blue Jays 2-1.    There is no scoring for another 5 innings when JP Arencibia hits his 5th home run and drives in Bautista.  Blue Jays up 4-1.

I was wondering how Hutchison would do and he ends up holding the Yankees to only 5 hits.  He made Derek Jeter look silly (not easy to do at all) on a few pitches.  The Yankees have not looked good at the plate over these two games.  Derek Jeter made a throwing error as well.

Final pitching lines -
-          Hughes – 5.1 IP, 7 hits, 2 ER, 2 walks, 5 K’s
-          Hutchison – 6.0 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 4 walks, 3 K’s

Yan Gomes was the other question mark.  Other than his weird looking batting stance, and his baby face, he did not look like a guy who just flew in from Las Vegas.  He collects 2 hits, in his debut against the New York Yankees.  Its also nice to see Bautista home runs in consecutive game.  He is not swinging at balls in the dirt or in the other batter’s box anymore.  Another thing to note is seeing Eric Thames not starting.  I saw on twitter that Vladimir Guerreo crushed a ball in batting practice.  I think he will be up before Travis Snider or Adam Lind.  Then Vladdy will DH full time while Edwin plays first.  Then I think that if Thames does not get it together, Lind will be called back up to play left field or traded once he finds his swing.

A series sweep of the New York Yankees, I'll take that any day, even if it's just two games.  The Blue Jays go against the New York Mets in inter-league play for the weekend.  Hands up if you love inter-league plays - ya that's what I thought.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Interview with Blue Jays Prospect Mark Biggs

In the 8th round of last season's draft, the Blue Jays selected Mark Biggs out of High School. The Kentucky native did not play in the minors last season, but will be making his Blue Jays Minor League debut sometime next month when he will head out to a short season team. Currently, Biggs who is 6 feet 3 inches tall is at extended Spring Training in Dunedin, Florida. I had the pleasure of asking him some questions, and I will now share the interview with you.

BJP:How has Extended spring training gone so far, and do you know or have a hunch of where you’ll be starting the year at?
Extended spring training has went well thus far, I've learned alot and feel like I have gotten better! I don't really know where I'll be starting this year, but wherever it is I am just going to go out and work hard everyday and try to keep improving.

BJP:You recently lost your father, how has that impacted your play, and is there one specific thing in baseball that has helped you a lot that your Dad taught you?
Losing my father during spring training was very tough, but it has taught me to take nothing for granted. I'm lucky enough to be doing what I love everyday so I try to go out everyday and work hard because you don't ever know how much time you have left. The things that he taught me that help me in baseball apply to all things in life. He always taught me to work for everything I want because nothing in this world is handed to you, and that especially holds true in baseball.
Biggs (Your Right) with JaysProspect Robert Osuna(Left)

BJP:What number will you be wearing and why?
I don't know what number I will wear during the year but if I had to choose it would be #3 because thats the number I always had growing up playing ball.

BJP:Which Blue Jays coach has helped you the most in extended and what did they teach you?
I feel like all the coaches in extended have helped me improve in some way. Whether it be from my mechanics to the mental side of the game, all the coaches have helped me one way or another.

BJP:Going into the draft, did you know you were likely going to the Jays, or were you shocked to find that out?
Before the draft, the Jays showed a lot of interest so I knew going to them would be a real possibility but I didn't know for sure which team would select me. Afterwards, I realized that this was a great organization to be a part of and I'm thankful that they selected me and gave me this opportunity.

BJP:Can you let us fans know what type of pitches you have in your repertoire?
I throw four pitches right now. I throw a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a changeup, and a curveball.

BJP:You must be very happy and excited to be able to work with the coaches in the Blue Jays system, which is one of the best in the league. Is their one aspect of your game that you would like to see a significant improvement on this season?
The one aspect of my game that I would like to significantly improve on this season is being able to throw my offspeed pitches for strikes in any count. Fastball command is first priority but being able to throw my offspeed pitches for strikes will allow me to be more effective.

BJP:You must be hearing that Lansing’s rotation is tearing up the Midwest league. Did you see anything in Spring training in Aaron Sanchez, Justin Nicolino, and Noah Syndergaard that really stood out from most pitchers?
Obviously the God-given talent with those three pitchers is evident, but what I saw that separates them from the pack is their work ethic. I felt like they came to work everyday with the mindset of working hard and getting better. Those qualities along with their talent makes them that much better.

BJP:What do you think of the new Blue Jays jerseys?
I love the new Jays jerseys and logos. I feel like the change in logo symbolizes how the organization as a whole is making changes in order to be the best.

I would like to thank Mark for doing this interview and taking the time to answer the questions. We here at BlueJaysPlus wish him all the best in his quest to make it to the major leagues!

Comments are welcomed below, and make sure you follow me on Twitter, @Gideonturk. Mark also has twitter, and he can be followed at the username @Mark_Biggs.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Evolution of Brandon Morrow

How has the strikeout master Brandon Morrow redefined himself following a frustrating season of inconsistency? 

He looked objectively at his innings from 2011, and made a commitment to become a more complete pitcher. Morrow had been hearing for years that he’d find more success by trying to get quicker at-bats, get more ground balls so he could pitch deeper into games but it wasn’t until this winter that it finally sunk in. Given the fact that Morrow only had one double-play turned behind him in 179 innings of work last year, his off-season work has already proved fruitful with more than 6 DPs in 41 innings of work. This is a huge part of the evolution of Brandon Morrow – using his pitches to allow his defence to get some outs. Pitching to contact and allowing the dynamite defence behind him to get the outs is the most important aspect of his improvement.

When the Seattle Mariners dealt Morrow to the Blue Jays two and a half years ago there was no question of his potential. The Mariners were frustrated with his volatility and gross inconsistency; there were games where Seattle thought Brandon was their closer, frontline ace, and a wasted first round draft pick. While there should never have been any question of the stuff that Morrow throws, his inability to make hitters chase off-speed pitches and his frequent high pitch counts did not let Morrow see many games after the 6th inning. It is imperative that ace-type pitchers enter every game with the intent to finish all 9 innings. You can see this mentality when you watched Roy Halladay on the mound, and now Ricky Romero – Brandon Morrow version 2.0 has the ability to finish out games.

Throwing gas is something that Brandon Morrow has always had in spades. The ability to reach back and put a little extra into his 2-seam fastball is a tool that Brandon will always possess; the trouble has been too many walks. Morrow has found himself in many full count situations, while trying to throw through the batter. Morrow’s career walks per 9 innings is just north of 4.0; and so far this year his BB/9 is a sparkling 1.7. This is another major reason for Morrow lasting 6.8 innings per start over his first 7 games of the 2012 season. Any pitcher that does not inherently pitch to contact will struggle having to throw from the stretch constantly due to issuing the free pass. The success of Morrow will rely heavily upon his ability to keep

There will be games this season where Morrow fails to pitch like he did on May 4th in Anaheim, and those games may occur when his strikeouts rack up. This is completely acceptable. As we should understand, an evolution is a process, a transition. There is no switch or option box to check for Morrow. He will have to improve, grow, and mature into the new and improved pitcher that he is becoming. The evolution of Brandon Morrow will be something that Blue Jays fans and all baseball fans will get to admire for the next couple seasons. 

Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below. Follow me on Twitter @ntopolie13 

I'm always open to discussion or debate! Blue Jays fans unite! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

AA Lets Out his Youth; Signs Expos Legend

The Blue Jays have signed Vladimir Guerrero to a minor league deal according to many reports, the first of which came from Ken Rosenthal at about 4PM Thursday. The deal is a minor league deal worth $1.3 million (If he cracks the Major League Roster). Vlad will go to Dunedin for extended Spring Training, and work his way up to the Blue Jays.

For all of you saying this is a bad deal, I would like somebody to tell me how in the world this is a bad deal. This has no effect on the club whatsoever, roster wise, or payroll wise. In fact, it will likely end up being a good thing. For only $1.3 million, this could turn out being the best move of the year The signing is low risk-high reward, and at the very least, Vlad is a better bench player than Ben Francisco. If Adam Lind continues to struggle (which he won`t because it is impossible to have numbers as low as his), EE can move to first, while Vlad takes over the DH job. Personally, I would stick with Lind, as I know, and we all know that he is capable of much more than he is contributing right now. Additionally, to trade Lind right now would be stupid because his value is at it`s lowest, so, if he does get traded, I suspect AA will wait until he has established his value.

If you think Lind will become a bench player, you are wrong. Mark my words, Adam Lind will never be a bench player for the Toronto Blue Jays. No player making $5 million will ever be on the bench for a team ran by AA. He would trade him way before he benched him, just like he did with Vernon (at a larger scale though I guess).

Not only can this be good for the club on the field, but off the field, this is a PR dream. In a country that has only the Jays left when it comes to baseball, bringing back some old memories of the Expos can never hurt. AA, who was a Expos fan growing up, and even worked in that organization was 100% hoping to draw bigger crowds due to Vlad. I suspect the first game he plays in Toronto will be huge, but from then on, the TV ratings in Montreal should shoot up. Vlad was a legend there, and AA was very wise by signing Vlad to attract the Quebec group to the Jays.

One more thing. This is nothing like the signing of Frank Thomas. Thomas' contract was a major league deal, and was worth a lot more than $1.3 million, a lot more.

What is your opinion on this signing? Leave your comment below!

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Is the Blue Jays Pitching One of the Best in the League?

The main stream media has been writing articles about how good the Blue Jays starters have been this season, even though they haven't actually been that good. They have actually been quite bad. In this article, I'm going to take a look at some advanced metrics that prove that the Blue Jays defense has been responsible for the pitching success, not the actual pitchers.

As most of you know from John Lott's article in the National Post today, the Blue Jays have the best defense in the MLB. The Jays have saved 29 runs from there defense according to DRS (Defensive Runs saved). This is due to the amount of shifts that have worked for the Jays, and their range that has greatly improved with the addition of Brett Lawrie and others.

The Blue Jays starters ERA's is 3.55, good for 3rd best in the AL. That number is way below where it would be if the Jays defense wasn't so good. So, to determine how good the Blue Jays starters really are, we will look at FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), and BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play). These are the ERA's, FIP's, and Opponents BABIP of the Blue Jays Starters this year. (No #5 starter)

Ricky Romero-3.64,4.03,.214
Brandon Morrow-2.38,4.32,.202
Henderson Alvarez-2.83,5.21,.200
Kyle Drabek-3.34,5.30,.263

As you can see, their ERA's are very low, but once you get rid of the contribution of the fielders (FIP), those numbers are very high. Morrow,Alvarez, and Drabek all have significantly below average FIP's, and Romero's is only a tad below average. If Ricky is going to be your #1 pitcher, then he needs to be your best pitcher, and his numbers so far are pretty disappointing. All of those pitchers have insanely low BABIP's, which means the batters are very unlucky, or the Blue Jays fielding has been phenomenal. Obviously, its the second option.

So, instead of giving credit to the Blue Jays Pitchers for their low numbers, give the credit to their defenders of the likes like Mr.Lawrie,Mr.Escobar, and Mr. Johnson. Hopefully, later this season, the two sides (Pitching and Defense) can both be leading the league, and the Jays will be in the post-season for the first time since 1993.

Feel free to leave your comments below.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New Blue Jays Browser Theme

Earlier today I was contacted by Mark Subel, the Chief Distribution Manager for Brand Thunder. He asked if I could promote their new baseball browser themes. I put the Blue Jays theme on my browser (Chrome), and I have to say it is awesome. When you open a new tab, the Blue Jays logo is on the background. At the top of all pages, the Blue Jays Logo and Letter Logo are present, while the main color theme is Blue Jays Blue. Here are some shots of the theme.

That second photo is very blurry, but if your wondering what it is, it is the top of the browser. The company partnered with, and made browser themes for all 30 teams. This is the link to the Blue Jays theme if you would like to download it.

It is free, if you were wondering. They are available for Chrome, FireFox, and Internet Explorer. I assume one will be made for Safari in the future, but I actually have no idea if it will be, I'm just guessing. So, show your Blue Jays pride, or any other team pride, and download these awesome themes.

Download the themes, and let us know what you think of them by commenting with your opinion below.

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