Monday, 13 February 2017

My Outlook for the Blue Jays 2017 Season

My Outlook for the Blue Jays 2017 Season

The off-season was less thrilling than I was hoping for but probably not as bad as some may think.  Here are some of my concerns and hopes for the Blue Jays in 2017:

1st Base
No Edwin is the first thought that comes to mind.  But we have Justin Smoak!  OK, I will try to be a bit more positive here.  The signing of Steve Pearce may help out, providing he is healthier this year than last.  Pearce hits very well off lefty pitching, but I believe he will get a lot more playing time than that.  Possibly sometimes in left field, but likely more often at first base to keep Smoak’s whiffs on the bench.  It’s also possible that newly acquired DH Kendrys Morales gets some playing time at first base, although that would be a couple of notches down defensively. 

Left Field
This is a position that I wanted the Jays to address in the off-season, but they didn’t.  Right now we have Carrera, Upton, and Pompey as left fielder options.   Pearce may also fill in here.  If Pompey doesn’t win the job, he will end up in Buffalo.  They don’t want him sitting on the bench as a 4th outfielder.  Likely we see some kind of platoon, but even that is not ideal.  Upton is much better vs lefhanded pitching so many have been talking about a Carrera/Upton platoon.  But the thing is that Carrera’s stats vs right handed hitting are not great.   In fact, neither of them are great at lefties or righties.  If Pompey can have a good spring and win a job on the team, they wouldn’t have room to keep both Carrera and Upton on the roster.  I think Upton would be the one to go.  Also, if the Jays make a trade, I’d think it would be for someone to play this position….. probably the Jays weakest.

Centre Field
Pillar of course.  He has earned it with his defensive magic.  But man I wish someone would change his approach at the plate.  I’ve listened carefully to how he describes his hitting approach, and patience is not part of it.  He prides himself on being able to get the bat on the ball no matter where it is pitched.  In the Wild Card game, he hit a key double off a high pitch he had no business swinging at.  It was a key hit in a close game so sometimes his odd approach can have an advantage.  But how many times did we watch him swing away at balls 3 feet out of the zone and sabotage his own at bat?  If he took those pitches, he wouldn’t get as many of them.

Right Field
Bautista would be the plan here, but not every day.  Having Pearce fill in at times is an option.  Otherwise, we are looking at Carrera/Upton to fill in.  I’ve heard that Bautista has improved his shoulder health this off season.  Hope so.

Second Base
Travis’ health will be key.  It is his job of course provided he is healthy.  I’m hoping Travis puts together his first full season so people can see just how good he is.  As he matures, I’m expecting that some of the rough edges of his defence will get better too.

Tulo is the coolest guy on Earth.  That’s saying a lot given who plays next to him.

Third Base
Will Donaldson have another awesome season?  I think so!  His hip issues really cut his performance at the end of last season.   I’m hearing that is resolved.

Health was an issue for Martin last year too.  If you recall, he fainted in the sauna and hurt his knee.  He had minor knee surgery in the off season and reports to be 100% now.  He posted a short video on twitter showing him jumping around like Gumby, so I think he feels pretty good now.  I think he will have a better year in 2017 than he did in 2016.

Backup Infielder
I have sad news everyone.  Goins will likely be Goins Goins Gone.  They have Barney and there won’t be room on the roster for Goins, who is out of options.

Starting Pitching
Biggest strength for Jays is that they have good starters 1 through 5.  Look for Sanchez to be a Cy candidate again.  Happ and Estrada I’d expect to be solid again.  Hopefully Estrada’s back woes are behind him.  Stroman is a bit of a tossup.  The smaller strike zone everyone is talking about may affect him the most.  But I’ve learned something about Sto……never underestimate him.  #HDMH.  Having Liriano as the 5th starter may turn out to be just awesome, if he pitches like he did at the end of 2016.

Relief Pitching
Some new faces have made this area probably pretty ok.  So hard to predict how bullpens will be, so let’s watch and see.

2nd Place AL East and 1st Wild Card spot

Sorry everyone, but Boston scares me.  They are the team to beat in the AL East.  Of course, health factors are huge, but I still see the Jays making the playoffs as the Wild Card.  They are a solid team with great talent.  It would be nice if they get off to a good start.  The Jays have been a slow starter in recent history.  

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Categories of Fandom - Which one are you?

Twitter is an interesting place to interact with so many fellow fans of your favourite sports teams, and at times fans of rival sports teams.  We have all seen the conflicts that can result from this.  Some of it is mature and friendly, while most of it can get fairly vicious.

What I’ve noticed is that there are so many different types of fans.  And even within each type of fan, there are various levels of sports knowledge that can in itself create conflict. 

My focus as I write this will be on baseball and more specifically the Blue Jays, cause frankly that’s mostly what I care about.  Although much of this I'm sure can apply to other sports and teams.  I am going to attempt to categorise and describe the different types of fans.

The die-hard fan

These fans will root for their team no matter what.  They will watch every game or most games (as their schedule dictates), even if the team ends up in last place.  They always see winning on the horizon, even if that is 5 years down the road.  They believe it can happen.  These fans typically can name every guy on the 25 man roster, and often know many of the prospects coming up. 

This is a team’s core fan base that will stick with them through thick and thin.  They will take the emotional journey of winning and losing.  Their team becomes part of their identity.


The bandwagon fan

I’ve seen this description used very loosely in different ways.  The way I see it, the bandwagon fan only shows interest when their team is winning and is successful.  This is the fan that watches playoff games but not regular season.  Or maybe will watch the end of a regular season when it is crunch time and much is at stake.   But it can also be applied to fans who jump on board and follow the team all season when things are going well but will abandon the team in losing years.  These fans will stop following their team if they see no chance of postseason success.

Often on twitter you see this term used as an insult.  The reality is that there is nothing wrong with the bandwagon fan.  Although in most cases, when someone is being called that on twitter it is not true.  However, it is natural for people to want to be part of the success of their local sports team.  These can be exciting times when a city or country can share in something special.  Bandwagon fans buy tickets and watch games.   They also disappear fast.  A franchise that goes years without winning needs a core fan base of die-hard fans to be able to stay in existence. 

I’ve met many people in Toronto that would be able to name a dozen players from the 1992 / 1993 teams, but couldn’t name more than 3 players since.  Some of them hopped back on in 2015 and know about Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista now.  They are not baseball fans really.  But when the Blue Jays have success and they hear the buzz, they will gladly hop aboard, buy a ticket or go watch the game with you at a local sports bar, and ask the person next to them how many outs there are in an inning.

The fickle fan

These fans are often mistaken as bandwagon fans, but I’m going to put them in their own category.  They are not bandwagon fans because they follow the team and watch most of the games regardless of the team’s success.  They don’t hop off the bandwagon in a physical way, but they do in an emotional way.  When the team starts to lose they quickly disassociate themselves from the team.  They become overly critical in an exaggerated way and position themselves as the one who always knew the team would never win.  They are quick to assign blame.  The GM and/or manager and/or struggling player become their enemy.  The GM/manager/player has taken away their joy of winning and they may see it as deliberate, or the result of incompetence.  Yes, these are the #fireGibby fans.  Any time a bullpen pitcher blows the game, it is the manager’s fault for putting him in the game.  They refuse to be sad at their team losing and instead position themselves in opposition to the team so that they are always on the right side of what is happening.  They vent their anger and frustration with what is going on in a very irrational way.  In a sense, they always have one foot out the door of their fandom but will never leave.

These fans are constantly positioning themselves for an “I told you so”.  They were against Shapiro before he even took a step into his new office at Rogers Centre.  They are against everything Gibby ever does.  They are against every move until they see that the move is working.  That way, if the move doesn’t work, they can say “I told you so”.  They make absolute statements like “playoff teams never lose games like this” or “they always don’t get a hit in these situations”.  They have a catastrophic style of thinking that magnifies a small thing into something much larger.  One bad game can set them off into a tailspin where they sound like they are no longer a fan of the team.  This creates conflicts with other fans, who find themselves having to be defensive and adding reason and rationality to the conversation.  It becomes as if the fickle fan no longer likes their team.

In some cases, these are hockey fans who apply their hockey knowledge to baseball.  If the best hockey team in the league lost a game 8-0 to the worst hockey team in the league, then there is an issue.  That probably should not happen.  Similarly in football, where glorious upsets are fairly rare.   But in baseball, a great pitcher can have a terrible day.  Or a terrible pitcher can have a great day.  It happens.  The best teams lose to the worst teams an awful lot in baseball.   Over 162 games, you get a lot of micro kinds of things happen that don’t make sense at the macro level.

If their team wins the World Series, these fans will tell you that they believed in them all along.  Hopefully they delete a thousand tweets that prove otherwise.

The championship fan

Ever meet someone who lives out west but is a Yankees fan?   They have zero ties to New York but they have chosen the team to be their favourite.  These fans would never choose the San Diego Padres, or Tampa Bay Rays.  They chose a winner.  Likely they made this choice in a year where the Yankees were dominating.  They buy the winning brand and associate themselves with it.  There is no geographic attachment whatsoever.  They root for the team that they believe will win the most and have the most success.  I’m not talking about New York folks who root for their Yankees.  Or even people who grew up before the Blue Jays existed and became Yankees fans because of the geographic proximity (and that Buffalo stations would play the Yankee games).

When the Red Sox built good teams over the last years, we saw “Red Sox Nation” grow.  These are “championship fans”.  They want the glory of their team winning, but the choice of who their team is, was based on probability of success. 

If their team ultimately loses, the first thing they will do is count World Series rings for their team vs. yours.

The anti-fan

These are the fans who don’t have a specific team to root for.   Instead, they have a team they root against.    Think Marty York.  We have all seen these types.  They will crap all over their targeted team and glorify the rivals of that team.  And guess what….. on average there is a 29 out of 30 chance that they will be winners at the end of the season.  Chances are that their targeted team will not win the World Series.  And assuming that is the case, they will claim victory for the season.  Their joy is for the fans of that team to feel the pain of loss.

Ask yourself which category you are in

Within each category there are variations to be sure.  I also think it is possible that some fans can change over time.  For example, a busy schedule in your work and personal life can leave little time to watch sports and maybe you find yourself a little bit in the bandwagon category because of time constraints.  In some cases a fan can hop aboard a bandwagon and never get off…thereby becoming a die-hard fan.  Also, a baseball season is very long, but in a given moment we forget how long it is and many people can find themselves frustrated and act a little fickle.  The purpose of this is to categorise the primary tendencies.  So which one are you?

Sunday, 10 July 2016

All-Star Break - Blue Jays

Back by popular demand, I am writing a blog post.   Well, I am exaggerating by saying "popular demand" but one guy at least actually has missed my posts.

It has been an interesting first half of the season for the Blue Jays.   They had a very slow start offensively with many of the guys slumping all at once.   It was really hard to believe they could be that bad, but sure enough the offense has come around to what we had expected. 

Tulo got off to a real rough start and many Jays fans really had no clue what this guy was capable of.   Now he is back to being the Tulo that the Rockies fans grew to love.  His overall season stats may not be impressive but if you look at his stats since about mid May, he is hitting very well. 

Donaldson is being a boss and on his way to the all star game.  Thank you Billy Beane.  I don't know what voodoo magic Alex pulled off on you, but thank you, thank you, thank you.  

The 2 biggest pleasant surprises offensively have been Michael Saunders and Darwin Barney.  I wasn't sure what to expect out of Saunders after last season's knee injury, but I certainly didn't expect him to have a career year and being an all star.  As for Barney, I expected him to be a back up infielder with good defence.   I didn't expect this kind of offensive contribution.   There's a guy who really has increased his stock as a player.  

EE has been hot in June and July and has 80 RBIs already.   Not coincidentally, JD has scored 80 runs.  

Bautista has been on the DL.  Seems like they never quite get their full offensive power all healthy at once.   I will be happy when Joey Bats comes back.   

The starting pitching has been quite good.   Estrada and Sanchez are all-stars. Happ has mostly been the guy that shocked everyone with Pittsburgh after the trade deadline last year, other than a mini slump that he went through  Dickey is having his usual season where he sucks in April and then becomes way better than most will give him credit for or even realize.   Stroman has been the most inconsistent.  He was quite bad for a while there but the last couple of starts have been very good.   The big test fro Stro will be when he faces AL East opponents again.  That's who have given him the most trouble.  I wouldn't ever bet against the Stro Show.   His drive and determination will get him through whatever struggles he may face. 

There are concerns however.   Estrada's back has put him on the DL.  Let's hope he gets through it well.   Sanchez may or may not be working on an innings limit.  If he is, they will put him in the bullpen.   He has been so good as a starter that putting him in the pen will hurt.   Unless Jays add a starter before the trade deadline, that will likely put Hutch in the rotation.  

The bullpen has the been the worst component of the team for they year so far.  Had the pen been even average, this team would be in first place now easily.   However, there's been signs of big improvements.   Grilli has been excellent for the most part since they acquired him (despite giving up the homerun to V-Mart the other day).   Cecil is now healthy and looks better than he did in the early part of the season.  Chavez has been good, although scares me coming in with inherited runners.   I like Bo Schultz.   I don't trust Storen or Loup.   I expect some improvements at the trade deadline in this area.   Of course, if Sanchez moves to the pen, then adding a starter becomes the bigger priority.   I'd still like to add a lefty specialist in addition to Cecil but other than Loup.  

There were times in the early part of the season, when this team was frustrating to watch.   Even when you know "it's early", you also can't expect that the team will win at the pace they did in August and September last year.   But they won enough games when they weren't playing well to avoid digging too much of a hole to crawl out of.   After playing well in June/July, the Jays sit just 2 games back of the first place O's and tied with Boston (also tied for WC spot).   I still expect the O's to fade and the Sox are the team to worry about, but strange things happen in baseball. 

It will be an exciting 2nd half of the season!   Go Jays Go!

Blue Jays Twit

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

My thoughts after watching "The Colorful Montreal Expos"

Last night, MLB Network aired a wonderful documentary on the Montreal Expos called "The Colorful Montreal Expos".  It was an incredible documentary that brought back many memories and emotions for me, so I thought I'd share.....

I was born in Montreal and lived there until I was 7 years old, but even after I moved I still had that connection given that my parents would always consider themselves to be Montrealers.  I had grandparents and other family that lived in Montreal, plus I visited from time to time.  As I grew up in Toronto, there was always a piece of my heart that was still a Montrealer.  I really became a bigger Blue Jays fan than an Expos fan, but I considered myself a fan of both teams.  There was never any real conflict in that.  The Pearson Cup was just a fun exhibition game.  Interleague play came along and they would play each other in real games, but I don't believe any of those series were very consequential to either team.

The first baseball game I ever attended was at Jarry Park in Montreal in 1976.  It was Expos picture day, so I was able to go onto the field while my father took pictures of me and my brother.  My memory of this is quite fuzzy, but I'd imagine that the lineup to have your picture with star players was quite long, so I don't have a picture with the "Kid" or anything like that.  In fact, it seems like over time some of those pictures were lost.   Here is one that I have remaining with my brother and coach Ron Piche of the Expos.  You could see the Olympic logo on his jersey sleeve.

I'm the little guy on the right (6 years old).

Watching the documentary last night brought back memories of the passion that my grandmother had for that team.  She was a huge Expos fan.  In those days, many games were not televised, so she would always listen to the game on the radio.  The voice of Dave Van Horne, who appeared in the documentary, was part of my childhood.  I would sit at my grandmother's kitchen table listening to the game, playing cards with her and trying not to inhale too much secondhand smoke from the constant cigarette she had burning.  She was an emotional fan, although not a sophisticated fan.  She would complain about certain players and yell things like "ahhhh, he strikes out all the time!", or "I don't trust that Reardon!".  She would also get very pleased when the team was doing well and would always tell me how many games they were above .500.  When she would come to Toronto to visit us, she would always want me to find the Expos game on the radio, which was sometimes an impossible task.  She didn't seem to appreciate that Toronto had different radio stations than Montreal.

Overall she was a disappointed fan.  The pain of "Blue Monday" sat with her.  Those great teams in the 1980s that never quite got over the hump left fans feeling empty.  She didn't care much for the Blue Jays.  Montrealers often look at rooting for a Toronto team as a betrayal.  But in 1992 she was happy that the Blue Jays won the World Series because she knew how happy I was.  She was rooting for them for me.  She was too sick in 1993 and died that year.

During 1994, the Expos had the best team in baseball.  My initial thought was "oh figures, now that she's gone they are going to win it all".  But of course, the strike happened that year and the season ended without playoffs.  My thoughts changed.  I thought of how angry she would have been to see that happen to her beloved team, and maybe it was good that she didn't get to experience what was the ultimate disappointment for Expos fans.

I hope to see the Expos return to Montreal one day.  It just seems wrong for that team to no longer exist.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Dirt Infield for 2016

For years we have heard Paul Beeston promise a change in the Rogers Centre from artificial turf to real grass.  Shapiro's comments this week indicated that grass was not a priority over other stadium upgrades to improve the fan experience.  Those comments were rather disappointing for many fans who had expected that 2018 was still the target for a grass surface.

For many fans, it isn't just about the aesthetics of watching a game played on a real lawn, but rather the impact that turf has on the players.   Generally speaking, players have complained about the pounding their bodies take with playing on turf.  Underneath that green stuff that you see is nothing but hard concrete.  However, the new turf that was installed at the onset of 2015, is considerably softer/spongier than the turf that was there before, and an even more significant upgrade from the turf that the dome originally had.

We didn't hear much complaining about the turf during 2015 up until the first game of the playoffs when the US broadcasting knuckleheads started to blame Beltre's back trouble from playing a couple of innings on it.  Which of course made no sense.  He had barely touched the ball to that point.  If standing on that stuff for 2 innings ruins your back we would all be crippled for taking a walk down a concrete sidewalk.  It's more of a long term thing with artificial turf, one would think.

Installing grass in the Rogers Centre would be a really big deal,   And really expensive I'd imagine.  Grass needs drainage, light, airflow, and water.  The stadium is not designed for it at all.  For now, it seems that Shapiro sees this as something he doesn't want to tackle.

However, I was surprised that Shapiro gave no concrete (pardon the pun) news on the dirt infield option.  This would mean that the artificial turf stays but a dirt cutout is made along the infield and baselines (see the imagined image above but picture turf instead of the grass where you see green...more or less).  Tropicana field in Tampa Bay, the only other artificial turf surface in MLB, has a dirt infield.  That means that the Rogers Centre is the only MLB park that currently does not have a dirt infield.  There are only dirt cutouts immediately around each base.  This was reportedly an option for 2016 now that the Argos won't be playing there, but we have heard no news on it.  The Sportsnet articles this week on Shapiro's comments said that the dirt infield was still an option for 2016.  However, I was discouraged because I thought if the plan was to do this then surely they would know by now to tell us one way or the other.

Then tonight, Stephen Brooks (Senior Vice President of  business for the Blue Jays) tweets in response to a question on whether a dirt infield will be in place for 2016 saying "Plan to start in Feb.".  Ok, so that is the first positive confirmation we have had that this is indeed happening.  By "start" I assume he means to start digging into the concrete.  You can't just sprinkle dirt over the concrete of course.

That's really good news.  Out of concern for the long term health of Tulo and Donaldson who will now effectively be playing their defense on dirt instead of turf.  This effectively makes playing at home for them no different than any other ballpark in terms of surface.  There are situations where they would be running for balls on the turf but that's not a big deal.

I'm not one of these Shapiro haters like I see all over twitter.  It takes years for someone in his position to be successful or fail.  To decide he is going to do one of those things within a couple of months seems ridiculous to me.  I will say though, that he'd have done himself a favour this week by announcing the dirt infield at the same time as saying that grass was not a priority.  Always good to soften the bad news with a little bit of good news.  To have the news come out by Stephen Brooks in a tweet seems a little odd.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Great Divide Among Jays Fans

There seems to be a divide amongst Jays fans as I watch tweets go back and forth.   One group is optimistic for 2016 and the other is ready for disaster.  Perhaps every fan base has the same kind of thing, but these days the fans seem quite polarized.   

After 1) an exciting run in 2015‎ that energized all Jays fans, 2) a new president arriving, 3) AA leaving the team, 4) a new GM, 5) various off season moves or notably moves they didn't make (Price).......there's a lot of anger out there.   I'd argue that most of the anger is misplaced. 

There's people that want to fire Shapiro even though he hasn't even had the chance to succeed or fail yet.   There's people who don't like the Atkins hire, even though they don't know anything about him.    

These same people are the ones that perpetually wanted to fire AA up until when the magic started.   But now suddenly the Jays are falling apart cause AA is gone.   With insane reports about how AA would have signed Price, even though he wouldn't have been given the budget to do so, some fans have idealized AA into a miracle man‎.   

It's interesting and ironic that some of the things they are upset about right now are the repercussions of things that AA did.   Many prospects were traded away at the deadline.   While I supported the moves at that time, I knew that once the 2015 season was over there would be some tough pills to swallow.   The cupboard of pitching in the system was bare and that means having to fill it through free agency before the farm can be built back up.  With so many starting pitching holes to fill, that also made it more difficult to allocate a huge amount of money into one player (David Price).   Re-signing Estrada and signing Happ are the kind of moves you need to do.   They are the kind of moves that AA would have had to do.   In a way, he really left the team at the perfect time in terms of his reputation.  He doesn't have to feel the heat from the repercussions of the back end of the risks he took in 2015. Instead, he's the guy who brought us Price and Shapiro is the guy who let Price get away.   It's completely unfair to Shapiro to judge him that away, especially when his predecessor Beeston never allowed deals beyond 5 years to begin with.  

But some of the media are feeding ideas to those fans that eat up negative news.   To the rest of us who remain positive on the team, the negativity seems irrational and sometimes seems as if they don't want the team to do well in 2016.   There are people who say this team is now ruined, but if you look at the roster it is largely the same as it was in 2015.   If you look at the team as it existed after the 2015 trade deadline (say August 1st) ‎to right now, it is very comparable.   We lost Price but now have a healthy Stroman.   Buehrle is gone but now we have Happ.  Lowe and Hawkins are gone but that's not too hard to replace.   We will have Tulo and Revere for a full year. There's certainly more work to do in terms of bullpen and adding pitching depth but people are behaving as if this is a stripped down team.  It isn't.  

Judging from some of the callers into PTS recently, it's as if they didn't understand that Price was brought in as a rental.   One fan literally said that AA brought Price in and Shapiro shipped him away.   That's an insane and naive way to look at it.

Baseball is such a highly unpredictable sport.   Injuries can derail a season.   Often players don't perform as expected.   And often a diamond in the rough emerges to be an all star.   Losing Stroman in spring last year was a huge blow to the team.  Estrada emerging as he did was a pleasant surprise.  That's what happens every year.  We have seen a team like the Red Sox go from last place to first place and back to last place within 3 seasons.   That tells you how unpredictable the sport can be.   It also tells you that it is foolish to think you know how 2016 will go.    There's every reason to be optimistic.   There's also things that can go terribly wrong.   That's what makes it interesting.  There's reason for so many fan bases to be excited right now.

I once had a friend that every spring would tell me that the Jays will come in last place.   I'd be optimistic and excited going into the season and he would laugh at me every time the Jays would lose.   Yes, he is highly immature, but I interpreted this to mean that he wasn't a fan at all.   This same guy painted a Blue Jays logo on the hood of his car in 1992.   But in 2013 and 2014 he enjoyed every loss so he could rub it in to me.   He was literally rooting for losses.   He wouldn't go to games and waste money on a losing team.  When they would lose, it was the big "I told ya so!" that maybe is a victory of some sort for people like that.   But in 2015 he also predicted they would come in last place.   So do I get to say "I told ya so!" to him now?    I wouldn't bother.  And guess what, suddenly at the end of 2015 he was a big Jays fan again.   It's the definition of a bandwagon fan.  ‎I just don't understand how one gets enjoyment out of that.   When Bautista whipped his bat into the air in game 5 of the ALDS, all of the real fans felt the release of years of frustration. The excitement and joy that comes from winning is so much more meaningful when you were part of the struggles.   It's like a friend who only is around when things go well but abondons you in times of trouble.   You treasure the friend who is around no matter what, as you should.  

This is what is happening now.   Some fans are setting things up for the potential failure of the 2016 team.   If they do fail then they will give us the big "I told ya so!".   If the Jays succeed they will say they are happy they were wrong, or maybe make up some narrative about how they won despite of themselves. Or better yet, if the 2016 team wins, it will be because of what AA did. If they lose it will be cause of what Shapiro did.   That sounds about right.

What I propose is the idea that Shapiro et al are going to do their best to make the Jays a winning team in the short and long term. Let's give them a chance to succeed or fail before making judgment.    Let's root for a team that is filled with great players that are exciting to watch. Let's hope that they can have success in 2016 and beyond.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Source: Edwin Encarnacion sets spring training deadline for new deal to be done

Red Sox writer, Rob Bradford, has written a small piece on Edwin Encarnacion.  According to his source, Edwin and his agent have set a spring training deadline for negotiating a new deal with the Blue Jays.  The article is written from a Boston perspective and it seems that the Red Sox are salivating at the thought of bringing Edwin in to replace Ortiz (who retires after 2016) and start mashing baseballs off the green monster.  Let's look at this from a Blue Jays perspective....

This is Edwin's last year in his contract and he will be paid a team friendly $10M for 2016.  Of course, the Blue Jays do not have to negotiate anything under Edwin's timeline, but if they don't he is saying he will become a free agent at the end of 2016.  In other words, if they don't extend him by the spring, they shouldn't bother trying to extend him during the season.  So this is the Jays opportunity to negotiate with him prior to free agency.  Understandably, if a deal is made prior to spring, then part of the deal they negotiate could include a pay increase for Edwin 2016.

I fully expect the Jays to be a competitive team in 2016, but you would have to think that if they stumbled and were realistically out of it by the July 31, 2016 trade deadline, they would have 2 big bargaining chips in Edwin and Bautista to deal to a contending team for some nice prospects.  Making a deal with Edwin prior to that, takes away that option.

There have been some light rumors of the Jays having interest in Chris Davis.  At first glance, it certainly doesn't seem like spending money on Davis makes sense when the biggest need is pitching.  There certainly would be those criticizing spending big money on a bat, which the Jays have plenty of, while they didn't spend on any of the big name free agent pitchers.  But when you consider this story with Edwin, it does make sense that the Jays would consider Davis as an alternative.  This is why I was tweeting yesterday that signing Davis would mean trading EE.  They already have EE, Smoak, and Colabello at first base.  Smoak wouldn't have any trade value.  They'd probably be lucky to find another team to just take his $3.9M contract without any players going the other way.  Colabello would have some trade value but nothing close to EE who is a proven elite power hitter.

I actually think there is a slim chance that the Jays sign Davis so don't get caught up in such a rumor.  But it is an avenue worth exploring given the choice they need to make on Edwin.

Within minutes of posting this, Howard Berger (@Berger_BYTES) tweets:  "#BlueJays and free agent slugger Chris Davis appear to be in a serious contract dance...."

So.....I don't know a lot about Berger, but he was on the FAN590 I think at some point.  It's a bit better of a source than Incarcerated Bob, but ya know how these rumors usually go.