Jays In 30…Thoughts
30 thoughts from the week that was for the Toronto Blue Jays
4/9/2016 – 4/15/2016
1) Panic Mode? The Blue Jays are off to a slow start. We all know. Is it time to panic? Not at all. We are less than 7% of the way thru the season. Heck the dome won’t be open for a couple more weeks!
2) That Call To The Bullpen. When John Gibbons signaled for Pat Venditte with both hands in the air I could not stop laughing. I love Gibby and for some reason I thought that was a hilarious move.
3) Saturday in Boston. Sadly I won’t be able to watch this one on Saturday and I feel like it is going to be a great game. Marco Estrada, coming off a great opening start, vs. the ex-Jay ace David Price? Sounds like a delightful afternoon at the ballpark.
4) Leadoff. Kevin Pillar has not walked this year, which wouldn’t be a huge deal, but he is hitting .205. These are not good numbers for a leadoff hitter. He can’t be expected to change who he is but is he really the answer at the top of the order?
5) An Interesting Option. The idea of Jose Bautista hitting leadoff has been tossed around in the media – and for obvious reasons it makes sense. The man gets on base. It is a tough sell to have a 2 time home run champ hit leadoff…and also the fact that it is his contract year – not sure how excited he would be to lose more than a few RBIs.
6) Is There Another Option? Michael Saunders is off to a great start with a high batting average, has great speed and likes to walk. Why not give him a shot at leadoff? Maybe at least until Pillar gets things straight…
7) The Break Out? I felt the 8th inning of the 2nd game versus the Yankees, where the team scored 4 runs, was just what the team needed to get the bats going…2 games later and it looks like, sadly, I was wrong.
8) That Breaking Ball. Justin Smoak can’t hit, and always chases the inside and low breaking ball. The Smoak/Chris Colabello combo at first base has 2 hits in the first 11 games. That is a bad position to not have a strong hitter.
9) More Front Office Changes. Stephen Brooks, who became popular through his Twitter account, is a well-regarded Canadian executive who resigned from his post of Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations. Andrew Miller, who formerly worked for Mark Shapiro in Cleveland, has come in to take his place. Only the high-up executives and Brooks himself truly know how this went down but it clearly looks like he was forced out.
10) David Who? Luckily, we dodged David Price in the home opening series but we won’t be so lucky in Boston. He is off to an OK start to his season but at that money we don’t need him. The rotation hasn’t been an issue. Thanks David, it was fun.
11) No Issues With The Starters. Besides R.A. Dickey, the rotation has been the strong point this young season. This bodes well as we all know the bats will get going eventually – Tulo and Martin won’t be hitting under .200 for the entire season!
12) Making Room. Arnold Leon was designated for assignment to make room in the bullpen for Pat Venditte. Leon had an unsuccessful bid with the Jays appearing in 2 games and accumulating an ERA of 7.71. Hopefully he clears and accepts an assignment in Buffalo.
13) Throwing With Both Hands. Pat Venditte, the ambidextrous pitcher, is now a part of the Jays. What a crazy thing to watch. Each time he is in the game I am blown away by what the man can do.
14) Is The Lefty Back? Brett Cecil had a clean outing on Wednesday night but I still worry. He buried numerous balls in the dirt and does not seem sharp. Could the calf injury be bothering him?
15) A New Muni In Town? No one has the personality of Munenori Kawasaki but Joe Biagini seems to bring a light hearted personality and quick wit that every team needs. Besides the personality he has a 95 MPH fastball that will, hopefully, help him have success in the bullpen.
16) Power Outage. Edwin Encarnacion had yet to “take the parrot for a walk” this season and a trip to Fenway was exactly what the doctor ordered! Edwin socked one on his first at bat of the season in Fenway (which, by the way, is the 2nd best ballpark I have personally visited [ed. note: Wrigley is #1 for me]) and followed that up with a 2 run shot in later in the game.
17) Picking Up Where He Left Off. Josh Donaldson is on fire! He has hit as many home runs already this April (five) as he did all of April 2015! Could he be on pace for another MVP award?
18) Road Trippin’. It is a big 7-game trip for the Jays, playing 4 in Boston and 3 in Baltimore, as it is always important to win games within the division – even if it is April. It would be nice if the team could come out of it with an overall record above .500.
19) Did The Rockies Know? Trevor Story, the 45th overall pick in the 2011 draft, hit home runs, 6 in total, in each of his first 4 games and now has 7 on the season. He had some power in the minors, 20 home runs last year, but did the Rockies know what they had waiting to replace Tulo? Maybe. But no one could have predicted this.
20) Dropping Bombs. Troy Tulowitzki hasn’t got off to a great start and he showed some frustration dropping an “F-bomb” after one of his at bats. Stuff like that doesn’t bother me. It is in the heat of the moment – it isn’t derogatory and really shouldn’t offend anyone. I get that kids don’t need to hear or see that but it is a live event – it is to be expected sometimes.
21) Cause for Concern? Russel Martin has had 2 hits in 33 plate appearances. Is there reason to worry? No. Martin has a long and successful track record in the bigs. With new pitchers with the team he also had to spend a lot of time, and brain power, learning their tendencies in camp and early in the season…
22) Major Cause For Concern. Has Chris Colabello been figured out? Was last year a Cinderella-type season? I fear it may have been. It happens to sophomores – the word gets out on their weaknesses. It looks like Chris is having a tough time keeping his head in and his balance on point. He might be able to turn it around but don’t expect him to hit .300 again.
23) The “True Ace” Argument. Is Marcus Stroman a “true ace”? No, but he could be. He is a number one starter but the term “ace” is saved for the elite pitchers in the game.
24) A Natural Fit. Buffalo will be home to the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate through at least 2018. It is a great fit for both the Jays and the Bisons. The Jays have quick access, due to geography, to call up players while the Bisons get a bump in ticket sales from across the border. [ed. note: I was just in Buffalo and the folks there are thrilled to extend their affiliation with the Blue Jays.]
25) Below.500 in Buffalo. The Triple-A affiliate has also started out with a 4-5 record. Not a great start but it comes with some bright spots including Drew Hutchison (9.1 IP, 1.93 ERA) and the newly acquired Jesus Montero (.333 BA, 6 RBI). With a lot of players with MLB experience I can see the Bisons having a successful year in the standings along with getting their players some play in the big leagues.
26) First Series Win. The first series win couldn’t have come at a better time or against a better opponent. The Jays took 2 of 3 at home versus the Yankees which got them back to .500 and gave them, and the fan base, some regained confidence in the team. The momentum didn’t follow them to Boston for the first game – unfortunately.
27) It’s Expected, But Painful R.A. Dickey is a notorious slow starter and has lived up to that reputation thus far. It has come to be expected by the Jays and their fans but it is tough to get excited for his starts in April. Noah Syndergaard on the other hand…
28) Record Pace! Not in a good way. Through 11 games the Blue Jays have struck out over 110 times. Which is, to put it bluntly, insanely bad.
29) Ouch. In that record strikeout pace we have Justin Smoak who has only put the ball in play twice this season through 16 at bats. He has struck out 11 times. Wow – just wow.
30) Not Sure Why. When Gibbons was asked about the strikeouts he really didn’t have an answer. Guys are pressing and being overly aggressive. It has to get better sometime soon…right?
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The 2016 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is coming April 3! Visit the Handbook page for more information!
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