Russell Martin Should Be The Jays Player-Manager in 2019

The Toronto Blue Jays are a team in flux. 2018 has served as a brutal reminder of what the rich teams can accomplish especially within the Blue Jays own division. 2019 and the prospects that populate the farm system do suggest a bright future, but should the Jays enact a near-ancient phenomenon to usher in this new generation?

Okay, “near-ancient” is a bit of a stretch, but not since Pete Rose from 1984-1986 has there been a player-manager in the MLB and I think the Blue Jays should revive the position here in Toronto. It would be a risky move with a team poised to be full of young, developing prospects but a club veteran player could be the move at manager.

My nomination is Russell Martin. Martin is a student of the game and 13-year veteran of the MLB. His accolades aren’t too shabby either: four-time All-Star, Gold Glover, Silver Slugger, 9th in Rookie of the Year voting, and MVP consideration in three seasons.

Besides his awards, Matin has substantial in-game experience across the MLB. He plays now as a catcher for Toronto in the American League but has spent time in the National League with the Dodgers and Pirates, too. He also has experience playing as an infielder as Toronto fans are well aware of. In 96 games played this season 71 are at catcher, 21 at 3B, 3 at SS, and 1 in LF.

The reason why Martin would be a choice for player-manager relies on his experience as a catcher first and foremost. Yes, him spending time across the diamond is important to understand the game from the perspective of other positions, but as a catcher you have the responsibility of organizing the team and your teams game from behind the plate.

This is why you see former catchers transition into manager roles post-playing careers because they are comfortable reading a game and setting up a dynamic game plan during play. Mike Scioscia, Ned Yost, Joe Girardi, and yes even John Gibbons are examples of former catchers who have made the transition to catcher.

Russell Martin is also a prime choice for player-manager due to the depth of catchers the Blue Jays currently have at their disposal. Danny Jansen is all but a lock to step into a major league role next season after having a solid start to his MLB career this season. Likewise, Reese McGuire who was called up with the expanded roster is poised to stake a claim at a job too after an impressive season in the minors.

This leaves Russell Martin and Luke Maile as the veteran catchers left to fight for two positions on the roster. With Martin’s $20 million contract for 2019 still on the books, it is likely he’ll stay with the team making Maile moveable in the offseason. Logically you don’t want 3-4 catchers on your roster with a young and unpredictable pitching rotation so moving one out makes sense.

Martin knows the MLB, he knows how to call a game, and maybe most importantly he knows how to work with young pitchers. Martin has handled countless pitchers over his tenure as an MLB catcher and would not only positively affect the likes of Borucki’s and Reid-Foley’s development, he would demand more out of the catching prospects below him to maximize all of his pitchers’ skills.

Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro are not likable characters in Toronto and hardly stray from their plans when it comes to drafting and developing talent. They probably have a manager in mind to bring in and act as a stop-gap between now and whenever the Jays are a contending team again, so Martin as a player-manager may not be a situation we see in the near future.

Despite these facts, it’s an interesting idea to play around with. Martin has to be the best candidate on the team for the job, plus he could chip in at catcher or really anywhere across the diamond should he need too. It would be nice to for once see a manager actually use those crisp uniforms they don in the dugout night after night, right?

It’s unlikely, but if the Blue Jays ever had an opportunity to reopen a long forgotten MLB practice 2019 and Russell Martin is the perfect combination for the first player-manager in 32 years.

Who Did The Jays Get For Osuna?

With the trade of Roberto Osuna the Blue Jays got what they desperately needed in this rebuild – more pitching prospects. Despite losing a massive talent in Osuna, the move not only allows the Jays to move on from a PR nightmare but also allows for the very vocal fans of this team to morally support their team again.

The Jays got a solidified MLB closer in Ken Giles plus two prospect pitchers Hector Perez and David Paulino. The haul isn’t as massive as it would have been if Osuna wasn’t mired in a legal battle or currently suspended, however many have pointed out that any return for this player was a positive. Giles will immediately step into the MLB roster and should act as the closer, a role that has been vacant since Osuna’s suspension.

So, who are these players the Jays acquired, and how do they stack up?

Ken Giles:

  • Age: 27, Throws: right
  • career 2.72 ERA, 367 strike outs in 274.2 innings pitched
  • 77 career saves

2018 Stats:

  • 34 games played in MLB
  • 4.99 ERA
  • His ever important FIP is 2.28
  • 1.279 WHIP
  • 9.1 SO/9
  • 12 saves

Giles has had a troubled year and the Blue Jays are hoping that a change of scenery could help him recapture his form. It is a bit of a gamble, but the stakes are currently low with the rebuilding Jays. Giles can come in and immediately look to be the closer despite his poor 2018 showing so far. There are issues with his attitude, as he was sent to AAA this season after telling his manager to “Fuck off” after pulling him after blowing a 4-0 save opportunity, but a new team should distance him from this issue.

As an immediate impact player, Giles will likely keep his head down in Toronto and should look himself again with lower stakes than a World-Series-or-bust team like the Houston Astros.

Hector Perez:

  • Age: 22, Throws: right
  • Has pitched in High A ball and AA this season, appearing in 21 games total

2018 Stats (A+17 games):

  • Started 11 of 17 games in A+, totaling 72.2 innings
  • 3-3 record
  • ERA 3.87
  • 2 registered saves in addition to starting games
  • 1.239 WHIP
  • 10.3 SO/9

Hector Perez slots in to the Blue Jays prospect rankings at #11 (coming from Houston’s 10 spot). have described his “nasty stuff” as potential closer material in the future. He uses a plus fastball/slider combination to keep hitters on their toes, but lacks major league control. Control and subsequent walks have been an issue for him in his minor league tenure, however with more development time he could be a potential important arm for the Jays.

David Paulino:

  • Age: 24, Throws: right
  • Has pitched in three games for the Astros with a 2-1 record and 6.25 ERA since 2016

2018 Stats

  • 7gp in AAA in 2018
  • 0-0 record, 27 IP
  • ERA 4.67
  • 33/6 SO/BB
  • 1.074 WHIP
  • 11 SO/9

David Paulino is a very talent, towering pitching prospect with some off field issues. After a positive PED test in July of 2017 Paulino was suspended for 80 games by the MLB. The 6’7″ pitcher was as high as 3rd on the Astros prospect list and 44th in the MLB, but plummeted to 24th in the organization. The time missed has hurt his development, but if he can get back on track his fastball is major league quality. His pitches come from a ridiculous plane top of his massive frame and release point. He doesn’t have as many tools as Perez, but his raw ability he has to throw the fastball is his biggest asset. Patience is key for Paulino who has big league potential as either a starter or bullpen arm.


All stats via

Atkins Double-Talks and Folds To Social Media Pressure; Osuna Traded

The Toronto Blue Jays have traded their closer Roberto Osuna to the Houston Astros for RHP Ken Giles, RHP Hector Perez, and RHP David Paulino. Osuna is currently in the minors after sitting out 75 games for a domestic violence arrest. While Osuna has not been criminally convicted of anything, the Jays felt the need to move on from their prolific 23 year old closer who boasts a career 2.87 ERA, 104 saves, and 253 strike outs.

It is no secret that the Blue Jays management team has been feeling some heat regarding the impending reinstatement of Osuna to the big league team. On June 29th Atkins was asked about Osuna and the trade deadline and responded by saying “We’ll be adding a closer on Aug. 5… Roberto is our closer.” So what has changed in a months time?

Atkins offers little to no information or personality for that matter when talking to the media; frankly its a waste of the radio hosts, TV interviewers, and viewers time. Usually its because he dances around questions and manages to fill time with nondescript cliches before ending the interview, however in this occasion he just flat out lied to Blue Jays fans. It would be understandable if the Astros offered a massive package for Osuna but as it stands now, the return is underwhelming to say the least.

And despite what bloggers, radio hosts, TV presenters, and writers (who constantly boast that they root for stories, not for teams) will tell you, the Jays are a worse off baseball team after this trade, and will be for years to come.

So the rich get richer in Houston and the MLB, its fans, and its media members are all okay with that. So why did the Blue Jays have to move on from their franchise closer? Because there is a double standard in the MLB that favours the likes of World Series contending teams and shits on teams that are out of contention, or ya know are in Canada. It’s not a conspiracy theory either, just fact.

Take Aroldis Chapman for instance. The 100+mph closer for the New York Yankees had charges dropped after his wife failed to cooperate with law enforcement following Chapman’s arrest for discharging a fire arm eight times into a wall during a domestic dispute. Chapman served a 30 games suspension for his involvement in the incident despite the charges being dropped.

Chapman has pitched for the Cubs and Yankees since his suspension, two of the leagues most iconic franchises, with no problem. He wasn’t convicted, as Osuna hasn’t been, and has not been blackballed by the league for his involvement in an incident that deemed a 30-game suspension by the league. If we put this into Osuna terms there are two major groups – happy Houston fans for getting a legitimate elite closer, and pissed off Jays fans for having to lose their franchise closer due to the court of public opinion. Again, don’t let the twitter charlatans tell you other wise with their social justice pushing agendas.

The Astros now have an alleged woman beater in Roberto Osuna and a confirmed racist in Yuli Gurriel on their roster and are poised for another deep playoff run in hopes of repeating their World Series success – as I said before the rich get richer. Gurriel taunted Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish following a home run making a “slanted eye” gesture and yelling “chinito”, which means Chinese boy, (Darvish is Japanese and Iranian) at the pitcher from the dug out. Gurriel served a five game suspension and happily returned to life as a major league player… without having to switch teams.

As for Osuna he was recently followed around by a camera crew from SportsNet to recant his arduous journey to the major leagues. This documentary shed light on his life and his struggles with anxiety, an affliction that kept him out of the Jays line up for multiple games in 2017. Osuna was a likeable character at the start of this season and a guy a lot of people were cheering for. Now he has become the incarnation of evil, as twitter would have you believe, and needed to be moved regardless of return.

Above all, however Osuna is human and humans make mistakes – some less forgivable and more incriminating than others, but nonetheless what Osuna allegedly did was a mistake. He is currently paying the price for it, having his name dragged through the mud across social media, but if he helps the Astros win another World Series mark my works it will be a redemption story proudly presented to us by the same people who demanded he be traded – because of their integrity.

The Blue Jays integrity, something many have quoted as the reason for moving Osuna, has done a terrific job in getting a return for their closer. A return that includes a player who was suspended 80 games for PEDs, and another who was demoted to AAA this season for telling his manager to “fuck off” after he pulled him for blowing a 4-0 save.

Facts are facts and stats are stats – Ross Atkins has lied to the Blue Jays fans, and the team is worse off for it today and in the future. I thought these guys were supposed to be good at rebuilds?

*This blog is not in defence of Roberto Osuna or his actions, but rather a light being shed on the hypocrisy and double standard expressed by the MLB and MLB media members.

Happ and Oh Dealt for Minor League Depth – The Rebuild is On

I guess Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro do have a way with trades, as J.A. Happ and Seung Hwan Oh have been dealt for two prospects each. Both pitchers have had excellent seasons for the Blue Jays and were likely to move. The return of prospects highlights Shapiro and Atkins’ area of expertise: minor league development and asset management.

Happ had moved into #1 trade bait territory for the Jays since Donaldson’s injury plagued year had set him up on the DL for most of the first half of the season. With the Mariners, Brewers, Cubs, and Yankees interested the price would have seemingly rose with such immense competition for the leftie ace. But on the contrary, Happ struggled in his last few starts and the price had to drop for the rental player. The Yankees ended up winning the race but still gave up a nice return for the Jays ace.

Originally it was believed OF Clint Frazier or LHP Justus Sheffield would have to be involved in a deal for Happ, but instead the Jays pick up INF 3B Brandon Drury, and OF Billy McKinney. The haul is still impressive for the Blue Jays on this deal.

Drury was picked up in the off season from Arizona by the Yankees as a depth option at third base. With the emergence of Miguel Andujar at third base and Gleyber Torres at second base Drury simply didn’t have room on the Yankees roster anymore and was moved. Think of Randall Grichuk from St. Louis – outfield depth pushed him out of the organization and they needed to capitalize on his value in a trade. Drury is just 25 years old and comes with three years of contract control. He has had a down year offensively, hitting below .200 but has all the ability to straighten things out and get back in form for his new team.

Drury’s acquisition is interesting seeing as there is a theoretical logjam at third base for the Jays. Solarte, Donaldson, Gurriel Jr. and Vlad – all are lining up for the spot. Until Donaldson gets traded or resigns on a likely one year deal we can only hypothesize about his future with the Jays, but the pick up of Drury does make Solarte’s future a little less clear.

Billy McKinney adds more competition to the outfield job in Blue Jay land. The 20th ranked prospect in the Yankees system has the ability to play in all outfield positions and has spent time at first base as well. His versatility in the field is undoubtedly attractive as a plug-and-play player is always more useful to a manager. According to McKinney’s bat is above average. Hitting from the left side of the plate McKinney has a smooth stroke and level swing. Since promotion to AAA he has sacrificed some of his plate discipline in a more power-hitting approach. Overall, there is a good chance that McKinney will be an everyday outfielder in the majors.

So Happ returns a developed prospect for third base, and a developing player in the outfield – not bad!

Seung Hwan Oh was moved to the Colorado rockies for two prospects as well. The Jays pick up first baseman Chad Spanberger, OF Forrest Wall, and a player to be named later or cash.

Oh had been Toronto’s most reliable bullpen arm this season putting up a 2.68 ERA over 47 innings of play. The Final Boss (a nickname he earned in St. Louis) can close, set up, or be a middle relief pitcher and brings a veteran presence to the bullpen with him. Colorado are gearing up for a playoff run and have added an interesting and versatile piece to their pitching ranks.

For Toronto they add another prospect to challenge Rowdy Tellez to the future of the Blue Jays first base in Chad Spanberger. Spanberger was the Rockies’ 24th overall prospect and is impressing in A-ball this season. Currently sitting at a .315 average, Spanberger has 22 home runs to his name, 75 RBIs, and an OBP of .363. Through 92 games this season he has improved on his 2017 numbers and should be pressing for a AA promotion to New Hampshire.

Forrest Wall the newest member of the Jays outfield prospect pool settles in at #23 on the Jays prospect rankings. He has suffered some injuries which have stunted his prospect development, however he is healthy and looking to get his numbers back on track. Currently hitting .206 in AA with 6 home runs and 12 RBIs, Wall needs to regain his plate discipline. He is a leftie hitter which always adds value to prospects, and has the ability to hit the deep ball or spread the ball to all fields. More of a project than cant-miss prospect, Wall will need patience in order to regain his form in the Blue Jays system. The competitive AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats team could help reignite him and get him back on track.

So it’s officially begun. The Jays are moving out rental type players who have value to playoff contenders. What is next for Jays management is the search for pitching prospects to support and replace the likes of Borucki and Sean-Reid Foley in the minors. Perhaps Solarte, Granderson, and even Donaldson could be next in the clear out and rebuild of the Jays roster.

All stats from

Blue Jays Should Invest In Rowdy Tellez… Now

Two points of clarification:
“Invest” = Give him major league game time at DH/1B
“Now” = This season

With a name like Rowdy the Blue Jays social media team is praying for this prospect to make the jump to the majors, but is that roster move in the teams hands or the players?

Tellez, a 30th round draft pick by the Blue Jays in 2013 draft is currently 23 years old and ranked 95th* overall in the MLB prospect rankings system. Despite that spot on the rankings list Tellez had a down 2017, taking the wind out of his sales from 2016 where he hit 23 home runs and collected 81 RBIs, all with a batting average of .297 in 514 plate appearances. Tellez’s 2017 numbers saw his home runs total shrink to 6, RBIs dropped to 56, and his average bottomed out at . 222 in 501 plate appearances.

After a stronger start to the 2018 season Tellez has begun finding that consistency in his game, raising his average and offensive production in AAA Buffalo this season. He’s currently hitting .255 with 7 home runs, 33 RBIs and a .331 OBP through 73 games.While these numbers aren’t elite they are trending in the right direction for the young first baseman. Things are clicking for Rowdy and it may be time to find out if he has the makings of a major league player or if he is an asset the Blue Jays can move on from.

It should also be mentioned that 2017 saw Tellez forced to leave the field for family issues surrounding his mothers health. After being declared cancer free the weight was lifted from the Jays prospect and it has allowed him to step back into his life as a baseball player. Players are people, and prospects are kids. This is a truth a lot of fans don’t grasp because of the fame and money that comes with being a professional athlete – for Tellez he had to do a lot of maturing off the field with his personal life that forced him to step away from baseball.

As mentioned his position is first base and with both Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales occupying that job (with the other in the DH role) one would likely need to move. With the Blue Jays in a rebuild (sorry but they are) one or both could be used to acquire prospects and picks to accelerate the process. Smoak has a lot more upside for trade return because his power is matched with above average defence, but the Jays could hold onto him to help tide over the fanbase during their ‘retooling’.

Morales should be moved if there are any suitors for him, hell send over some cash and low draft picks to make a deal come to fruition if you have to. Morales is over the hill production wise and is still owed $12 million for one more year after this season. Moving him would open up a roster spot for a promotion and would also ease the books for Shapiro and co.

Now, Tellez shows a lot of promise and upside at the plate but how is he defensively? Lets say he is closer to Morales at first base than Smoak. While there is truth to the old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, Tellez is just 23 and has a lot of tricks he still needs to learn. Major league exposure to first base and being the understudy of one of the best defensive first basemen in the league has nothing but upside for the Jays and is an opportunity they shouldn’t let slip away.

This season is already a wash and if Atkins and Shapiro can find some trading partners for some of their veteran trade chips, Tellez and friends could earn some late season big league reps to help them develop. Rowdy has all the makings of a middle of the order bat – strong and physically big (6’4″) with good lower body power generation in his swing. Let him adjust to major league pitching at the major leagues. The worst that could happen is the Jays find out what they have in one of their highest ranked organizational prospects.

*at 2017, has since dropped out of the top 100 in 2018.

Steve Pearce is crushing it for the Red Sox, and that’s a good thing for the Jays

Former Blue Jay and current pinch hitting DYNAMO for the Boston Red Sox, Steve Pearce is ripping it up for his new team. Need some proof? Here he is launching a one handed missile over the Green Monster last night:

Since joining the Red Sox Pearce has gone 10/21 giving him a .476 batting average, with 1 home run, 4 doubles, and 5 RBIs. Pearce is usually appearing as a pinch hitter, slotting in behind J.D. Martinez in the line up. For the Sox he offers adequate defense with versatility as he can seemingly play LF, RF, 1B, 2B, 3B, but having a veteran bat who has seen a lot of AL pitchers is probably his biggest asset.

Safe to say Red Sox fans are liking the signing too…

Despite Boston having success with Pearce, Toronto could also reap some benefits from their stand out, veteran players getting moved like Pearce was. Granderson, Morales, Happ, Solarte – with the exception of KenMo these players have brought excitement and offense to an otherwise under-performing roster. And despite their importance to the Blue Jays game in the long run it is worth it to move on from these veteran players and bring in more farm system players.

It’s an uncomfortable truth for a lot of Jays fans to accept – trading your best players, but in pro sports if you aren’t contending then you need to be building. Unfortunately for the Jays, they aren’t contending. Holding onto veteran players on one year expiring deals makes no sense and hamstrings the teams rebuild for the sake of mild entertainment.

Pearce thriving on a contending team is nothing but good news for the Blue Jays. His performance so far is basically acting as one of those surprisingly athletic sign flippers standing out front of a liquidation sale or Little Caesar’s Pizza shouting out their availability for business based on their skills. And just like Little Caesar’s there is a lot more for sale than just one Steve Pearce sized pizza.

Sure, it’s going to suck but if the Jays move out some vets it allows us Jay’s fans to see more minor league players get a shot. Gurriel to 3B? Why not if Donaldson is traded/injured! Dwight Smith Jr. to platoon in the outfield with Hernandez and maybe Clint Frazier? I’d like to see it! The Jays should use the assets they have to create a strong foundation of prospects building for a competitive team in the (near) future, not hold on to them so we have a few more RBIs in a meaningless August.

The Blue Jays May Have Something in Gaviglio and Borucki

The upside of an injury laden season can be the exposure and emergence of minor league players. Many believed the Toronto Blue Jays biggest bright spot heading into the season would be their starting rotation. This rotation boasted Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, and Jaime Garcia; a starting rotation that mixed youthful swagger with proven veteran experience. However, Toronto’s pitching corps have been hammered by injury this season emphatically deflating that promising rotations effectiveness. But for the Blue Jays there has been a silver lining in this scenario, the emergence of both Sam Gaviglio and Ryan Borucki. First, lets see how these two starters got their shot.

After a 2017 season focused around the word “blister” Aaron Sanchez was sent to the disabled list on June 23rd. Thankfully this injury was not reported as a blister related injury, however it was on his right index finger which is suspicious to say the least. Sanzhez underwent an X-Ray which should have dispelled the idea of this being a blister injury, but the scary thought still remains. Sanchez has missed 16 days on the DL and has just began throwing again with no timetable for a return.

Former BFF of Sanchez, Marcus Stroman has also spent time on the DL for a much more precarious reason than his old pal. Stroman was struggling consistently for quality starts this season. Some blame a nagging shoulder injury that shortened his spring training for the rocky start but when his form wouldn’t round out, Storman was headed to the 10-day DL with “shoulder discomfort.” I’ve hypothesized that this was more of a mental break for Stroman, but regardless of the reason he has looked settled and more technically sound since returning.

Jamie Garcia, the depth fifth starter in the Jays rotation was been underwhelming in his young Blue Jays career. Garcia’s ongoing left shoulder injury (inflammation) has stripped the most basic necessity for a starting pitcher – inning eating ability. Without playing Garcia is allowing his 6.16 ERA sit stagnant and while it isn’t growing, Garcia is losing time in the season to shrink that number down. Gibbons is flirting with the idea of a bullpen demotion for him when he returns.

With adversity comes opportunity, and for two Blue Jays pitchers that has happened at differing positions in their careers – first Sam Gaviglio.

Sam the winning record man, as he was so affectionately called, is now in search of a new nickname since falling to 2-2. Despite his record evening out, Sam Gaviglio has been a pitching positive in the struggling rotation for the Blue Jays. Gaviglio is currently sporting a 3.81 ERA with a WHIP of 1.231. These numbers are not elite, however Gaviglio is showing better stuff than he has in his previous stints with the Royals and Mariners. Gaviglio is leaning into his skill, mixing speeds well, and gets tricky movement on his fastball. He isn’t trying to overwhelm batters with speed, but is getting strikeouts (51SO in 52IP) with his deceptive pitch selection and execution.

At 28 years old Gaviglio is more so looking for MLB stability than his ‘big break’ into the league. The shakiness of Toronto’ starting pitching has been a blessing for him, affording him opportunity without any mounting pressure to perform. If he can keep it on the right track Gaviglio could be a solid bottom rotation pitcher for the Jays this season and into next year.

Recent call up from the AAA Buffalo Bisons, leftie Ryan Borucki is turning heads in the major leagues. The 24 year old has a terribly unjust record at 0-1 in three games played, as he has pitched 20 innings in the majors with just 19 hits and 5 earned runs to his name. Borucki has not been given an easy ride either having his major league debut against the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros, followed by games against the Detroit Lions and New York Yankees.

With only two runs supporting him across all three starts COMBINED, Borucki’s record should be ignored. Instead his 2.25 ERA, 20IP, and 16SO should be the focus. Like Gaviglio, Borucki has a deceptive delivery allowing him to get solid results from a low 90’s fastball. In a Buerhle-esque style Borucki works quickly and mixes pitches well, focusing on location with both his fastball and cheeky change up.

He has yet to face a lot of adversity, but with the elite competition he has faced that is not a strike against him, but rather a credit to him. As is the case with a lot of new pitchers, it can take major league hitters some time to adapt to unfamiliar faces. For Borucki, his delivery offers some reprieve from the eventual catch up. Low hands, high leg kick, a 6’4″ frame, all from a left handed pitcher keeps his pitch selection hidden and should keep batters guessing.

Both Gaviglio and Borucki have benefitted from the injuries that have plagued the once believed to be elite starting rotation of the Blue Jays, but in different ways. Gaviglio is seizing the opportunity to reestablsih himself as a depth pitcher who can eat innings and get results. While Borucki is looking for a a more Teoscar Hernandez style stay in the majors – get your opportunity and run with it. For both they seem to be better options than the pitchers they are replacing, and with Marco Estrada leaving his last start with back discomfort (a long nagging injury) there could be more opportunity in the near future for these two pitchers.

Should The Jays Target Yankee’s Clint Frazier In Happ Trade?

As the end of July creeps closer Toronto Blue Jays fans anxiously await the inevitable trades that should shift the struggling Blue Jays into a franchise full of solid prospects. What the focus for the Blue Jays should be is “cusp” players and high level prospects that are close to stepping into the major leagues in the near future, not project players.

For Toronto Blue Jays fans one of the biggest bright spots this season has the been the terrific play of leftie ace J.A. Happ. Subsequently, one of the hardest pills to swallow will be him moving away from the team soon. Even worse, it looks like it’s the yankee’s who’ll be scooping him up, however the silver lining could be the return the Jays could get for their southpaw.

In a team chocked full of high quality prospects, Clint Frazier has been heralded as the next MLB ready outfield prospect to emerge from the New York Yankee farm system. Without the major acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton in the off season it was likely Frazier would have been a regular on the big league club, however for the Yankee’s the Stanton deal was a typical signing – big name, big bat, big money – and couldn’t be passed up.

For Frazier his entire career is ahead of him; at 23 years old and some big league at bats in 2017 and 2018 under his belt he is ready to make the transition to the majors. He is currently hitting second in the line up and playing right field for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders. His minors numbers make him an attractive piece to target in any deal with the team;

Scranton Wilkes-Barre (AAA):

  • 44 games, 203 plate appearances, .305 batting average
  • 24 extra base hits, 8 home runs, 17 RBIs
  • 21 walks, .379 on base percentage

The Jays would be giving up a top notch player this season who fills a desirable need for many teams – elite level leftie starting pitching. Happs 2018 stats prove he is worth a rich return, too: 10-4 records, (inflated) 4.08 ERA, 110 strikeouts, 1.110 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 9.2 SO/9.

So, would Frazier be a good fit on the Blue Jays? Any 23 year old, 6’1″ 195lb, elite level prospect on the cusp of making starting their MLB career would be welcomed to most teams in the league including the Blue Jays. As it stands now the outfield has not been the largest concern for the Jays, but more competition for play should be welcomed.

The Jays current outfield is led by Kevin Pillar, the Jay’s everyday centre fielder who offers unparalleled defence with average batting. Next is breakout hitter Teoscar Hernandez (LF) who stepped up with his opportunity to be an every day player this season and is now cemented in left field. Hernandez brings major pop to the lineup with average/below average defending. And finally Randal Grichuk (RF), who appeared to be the weak link in the outfield but has returned to form after a horror start to the season. Grichuk is hitting .294 in June with 8 homeruns and 20 RBIs, while offering above average defence.

Acquiring Frazier could mean the Blue Jays would roll with a young platoon in the outfield, using a mix of their everyday outfield players to maximize their potential and also temper the likes of Frazier into the league.

A move for the top outfield prospect could also signal that a few more moves are on their way – namely Curtis Granderson and Kendrys Morales. With young players itching to play, moving out a player like Morales who can legitimately only play DH (not good enough at 1B) you can keep a bat like Hernandez in the lineup, while offering better team defence with Frazier in LF.

Despite the hate they get on a regular basis, GM Ross Atkins and President Mark Shapiro know how to build a team through drafting, developing, and prospect analysis. Atkins is responsible for flipping leftie Francisco Liriano last season for Nori Aoki and an “outfield prospect” who turned out to be Teoscar Hernandez. Much like the Astros, the Yankees are deep in the outfield and Frazier could be the piece targeted in a deadline deal for Happ.

Embrace the rebuild, Jays fans. It’s about to get started!


Blue Jays Trade Steve Pearce To Red Sox In First Move Of Many

The Toronto Blue Jays have moved IF/OF, right-handed batter Steve Pearce to the Boston Red Sox for minor league SS Santiago Espinal. In the first move of (hopefully) many this season, the Blue Jays add an interesting young piece to their prospect pool.

Steve Pearce has struggled with injuries this season but when healthy has played very well. Hitting .291 in 26 games played this season Pearce has hit 16 home runs and collected 16 RBIs in limited playing time. Able to play both infield at second base and first base, and the corner outfield, the Red Sox get a veteran utility player with some major league pop and clutch hitting.

While there is a logjam of SS prospects with six ranked in the Blue Jays top-30 prospect pool, infielders who can hit are a commodity league wide, and will never go out of style. So, who exactly are the Blue Jays getting in 23 year old shortstop Santiago Espinal?

In Class A Advanced ball with the Salem Red Sox Espinal is having a solid and repsectable offensive season:

Batting Average: .313
On Base Percentage: .363
Extra Base Hits: 25
Runs Batted In: 32
Home Runs: 7
Strike Our Percentage: 7%
Walk Percentage: 14%

What the Blue Jays appear to have gotten in this trade is a discipled hitter who looks to add offence through contact, line drive hitting rather than home run power. His biggest asset may be his ability to play around the infield as a utility player, playing 2nd base 3rd base, and shortstop at an above average level defensively. The 2016 tenth round pick also has above average base running speed and will steal a good amount of bases (9 in 65 games this season).

Espinal could possibly see some starting time this season, especially since Aledmys Diaz has missed time due to injury already this season, Troy Tulowitzki is MIA, and prospect Richard Urena has already been called up this season as a stop gap. As well, his versatility in the infield could see him draw time at third base if Solarte and/or Donaldson are moved.

The asset collection has begin for Toronto with Pearce being moved early ahead of the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. Next up… Donaldson? Maybe not, but there should be significant movement surrounding veteran players like Happ, Estrada, Tepera, Solarte, maybe Donaldson, and Granderson. Buckle up Jays fans, its turnover time!

Jays Beat Nats, Nats Beat Yanks = Jays Best Team in AL East?

I’m just asking for a friend, but I think that the Jays may be the best team in the American League based off of the transitive property – don’t blame me, blame science! But seriously, what is going on with the Blue Jays? It’s a small sample size but the Jays have gone 7-3 in their last ten, sweeping the Orioles and Nats, while getting swept by the Rays in Tampa (obviously).

A few reasons that the Jays have had a recent turn in form are: Devon Travis, Randal Grichuk, Yangervis Solarte, and Marco Estrada.

Devon Travis, a career bandaid player, was recalled from a minor league rehabbing stint on may 22nd. A man possessed since returning, Travis has been hitting .538 avg. in his last seven games, including two home runs and five RBIs in that stretch. This brings his season average to .238 and home runs to four with 11 RBIs, emphasizing the impact his most recent 13 at bats have had on his season total 122 at bats.

Yangervis Solarte has just been more of the exciting, electric player he has been since coming to the Jays. His average is sitting at .258 with a .310 on base percentage, virtually mirrored in his last seven days at .286 avg and .286 obp (all evens out, right?). He is handling the job of team slugger, with three home runs, even if they are coming with no one on base, four RBIs. He seems to be the pulse of the team and has now officially surpassed Ace as team mascot – just watch the dug out when anyone hits a bomb, their hands up dancing just like Solarte was doing in April! He may be an important piece for more than just his on field performance as any contending team could use his switch hitting bat, and infield utility defence.

Randal Grichuk, MY GUY. Since coming off of the DL on June 1st he has been more than advertised when he was brought in to the Blue Jays fold this off season. In June, fresh off the DL, Grichuk has been hitting .326 avg. with 3 home runs and 5, yes 5, home runs. He has been lights out and seems mentally refreshed since coming off his injury rehab. Is it sustainable, well I previously say no, but I guess we’ll see, won’t we! Grichuk is up to .196 .avg on the season, and 7 home runs. He has turned his game around and as long as he can keep it close to this form for the rest of the season, Toronto and the fans are the real benefactors of his improved and exciting play.

Marco Estrada has been a real mixed bag as a pitcher this season, and it has been a mix of “what type of bad is Estrada going to be?”, not “will he be good or bad?”. However, the former pitching ace has seemingly turned his form in June, posting a 1.45 era and going 2-0 in 3 starts. It’s hard to say what has been effecting Estrada’s game last season and leaking into 2018, however whether it is mental clarity or mechanical reworking that has settled him down in June, Estrada is finally pitching like he can and is actually helping his team get closer to winning.

A few shoutouts for great play are J.A. Happ and Teoscar Hernandez. Happ has been great as he has been all season, locating his fastball and mixing pitches like the vet he is. Teoscar on the other hand, always seems to have a homer run or timely hit loaded in his bat for Jays fans to get excited about. Outside of these two, and another plus to the Blue Jays is the long coming return of Marcus Stroman. It will likely see Sam Gaviglio sent back to the minors, but that may be for the best as he has struggled in his last two starts.

Any way you cut it, the Blue Jays are playing some exciting ball right now and giving the fans something to stick around for. I’ll gladly take a team that can sweep elite and terrible opponents while mystically being befuddled in the league’s shittiest stadium for no apparent reason. As long as they win some game and crank some dingers, that all we want for this season now!