Archive for March, 2012

Blue Jays Extend Dustin McGowan

The team announced the deal, which will pay McGowan $1.5MM per season in 2013 and 2014 and includes a $4MM club option for 2015 (with a $500K buyout).

Dustin McGowan, who arrived at Spring Training without a guaranteed spot in the Blue Jays’ rotation, now has job security for at least two years. The oft-injured right-hander has agreed to terms with the Blue Jays on a two-year contract extension with an option.

McGowan is currently dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

“I went out, and in that second inning, I couldn’t push off of it,” McGowan said. “It was almost like picking my foot up and throwing, and I thought, ‘All right — I might as well stop right here before I do something to my arm.’

“I’m smart enough to know it’s going to change if I can’t push off, [because] I’m going to have to change everything in my delivery.”

Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the connective tissue that begins at the heel of the foot and extends toward the sole. It can be very painful and sometimes becomes a nagging problem that is difficult to treat.

Analysis: The twitter verse blew up with varied opinions, some strongly opposed.  My take is this is much ado about nothing at that minimal salary.  Let’s see if McGowan can regain past form and give the Jays a steady backend rotation option for the next two seasons.

Pretty sure he can put up the 0.8 WAR needed over the life of this contract to make it worthwhile for the Jays.

Blue Jays Spring Training Recap – March 25, 2012

Jose Bautista was beaned, Brett Lawrie made his return and Aaron Laffey might have lost the fifth starter job with a poor effort this afternoon.  The Blue Jays were defeated by the Boston Red Sox 6-5, here is the boxscore.

Toronto’s Aaron Laffey and Boston’s Daniel Bard were each roughed up for five runs a piece, and the Blue Jays came through in the 10th inning on Ricardo Nanita’s single with the bases loaded for a 6-5 walk-off win on Sunday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

Laffey, who is competing for a spot in Toronto’s starting rotation, had trouble from the outset. He surrendered a leadoff double to Mike Aviles, which was followed by an RBI triple off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury in the two-run first.

Boston added another run in the second on an RBI double by Aviles. Laffey pitched two scoreless innings before there was more trouble in the fifth. With two on and one out, Darnell McDonald hit a scorching line drive into the gap in left-centre field that just went under the outstretched glove of Eric Thames for a triple to score two more runs.

Up next: Kyle Drabek will make a crucial start on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. ET, when the Blue Jays visit the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field in a game available live on MLB.TV. Drabek is competing for the final spot in Toronto’s rotation and will need a strong outing to make his case. He will be followed on the mound by Sergio Santos, Francisco Cordero and Casey Janssen.

Jose Bautista Beaned – X-Rays Negative

Jose Bautista left today’s spring training game versus the Boston Red Sox after getting beaned in the right hand by a Daniel Bard pitch but it appears he has avoided a serious injury.

Bautista had an x-ray performed on the hand but it came back negative, and Blue Jays nation breathed a huge sigh of relief.

“I think we were fortunate to avoid something there,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. “He took the glancing pitch off his thumb and index finger on a pitch that just got away from Bard. Fortunately the X-rays were negative — there’s a little bit of swelling, but he should be fine.”

Bautista is hitting .306 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 13 games this spring.

This should heat up what promises to be a budding rivalry this season between the Jays and BoSox.

Travis Snider Sent To AAA

It appears the battle for the Toronto Blue Jays left field job has been won by Eric Thames, the Jays left fielder last season.  Travis Snider was sent to the minor league camp and will begin the season in AAA Las Vegas.  Snider had a solid spring batting .271 with four home runs and a team high 16 RBIs in 17 spring games.  However incumbent left fielder Eric Thames was equally impressive this spring batting .333 with a home run and 7 RBIs.

Thames was also pretty steady last season for the Jays at the major league level, belting 12 HRs and batting .262 in 95 games.  I think it would have taken a combination of a monster spring for Snider and a terrible one for Thames for the Jays not to give Thames the starting role.  However, if I were Thames I wouldn’t be too comfortable based on comments by Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos:

“This doesn’t mean it’s permanent — this could change at any time. Just because one guy starts the year doesn’t mean it couldn’t change at any time. So Travis is going to be ready.”

The Jays announced a series of cuts today including David Cooper, Yan Gomes, Jon Diaz and Chris Woodward along with Snider as they attempt to get their roster set for opening day. 

Gregor Chisholm reports Toronto has five more cuts to make, and two jobs are up for grabs. Veteran Omar Vizquel is competing against Luis Valbuena and Mike McCoy for the utility infielder spot, while Dustin McGowan, Aaron Laffey and Kyle Drabek are in the mix for the final spot in the starting rotation. Top pitching prospect Drew Hutchison is also still in camp, but he isn’t considered a strong candidate.

Blue Jays Spring Training Recap – March 24, 2012

Another spring training day and another spring training route for the Toronto Blue Jays.  This afternoon they defeated the Atlanta Braves 9-0 behind a solid pitching effort from Henderson Alvarez.  Here is the boxscore.

Adam Lind homered and drove in four runs while Kelly Johnson added three RBIs of his own en route to Toronto’s 9-0 victory over the Braves on Saturday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

Right-hander Henderson Alvarez got the start for the Blue Jays and allowed just one hit through five innings. The 21-year-old also didn’t walk a batter while recording four strikeouts.

Alvarez needed just 61 pitches to get through his fourth official outing of the spring. He has allowed just two earned runs in 11 innings and appears set to begin the year as Toronto’s No. 4 pitcher.

Up next: Left-hander Aaron Laffey will get the start when the Blue Jays host the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Laffey will be followed on the mound by Jason Frasor, Carlos Villanueva and Luis Perez. The game is also expected to mark the return of third baseman Brett Lawrie, who hasn’t played since injuring his left groin on March 16 against Tampa Bay.

Appreciating Ricky Romero

Just wanted to update a former piece from my old blog on Blue Jays Ricky Romero with updated 2011 stats…

Former Blue Jays GM JP Ricciardi has taken his share of criticism since departing from the team but the franchise does owe him a bit of gratitude for leaving behind two of the best players on the roster, Jose Bautista and newly minted “boss” starter Ricky Romero.  I wanted to focus on the latter today considering you must have been on Mars for the past 18 months if you aren’t familiar with the exploits of one Jose Bautista.

Ricardo Romero was born November 6th, 1984 in East Los Angeles, California and was drafted 6th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2005 MLB amateur draft.  The 2005 draft year in MLB is akin to the 2003 NBA draft that produced Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, among a few other stars.  Taken ahead of Romero that year was Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Jeff Clement (ouch, the Detroit Pistons of this draft) Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Braun.

It doesn’t stop there check some of the names taken after Mr. Romero: Troy Tulowitzki, Mike Pelfrey, Cameron Maybin, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Chris Volstad, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Garza,  Blue Jays OF Colby Rasmus, Clay Buchholz and Jed Lowrie.  Ok, forget comparing it to the 2003 NBA draft, or any draft, that is a who’s who of young baseball talent and even a few franchise players.

Considering his home park and division Ricky Romero has been one of the best left handed starters in baseball the past two seasons.  Brandon Morrow has the best stuff on the staff but Ricky Romero is our best pitcher.  Let’s do a quick comparison against another top lefty who most assume is a Cy Young contender annually, let’s see if you can guess his identity based on current stats.

2011 ERA xFIP K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 BAA GB% WAR
Romero 2.92 3.64 7.1 3.2 2.23 1.04 .214 54.7 2.9
Player B 3.47 3.62 8.5 3.5 2.43 0.94 .233 50.6 3.7

Pretty even across the board although it is clear that Player B is more of a strikeout pitcher while we all know Ricky Romero likes to induce groundball outs when he can.  Player B is Boston Red Sox lefty Jon Lester who is having another very solid season in another tough ball park and tough AL East.  Lester is often among a handful of candidates when discussing best pitcher in the game while it is very rare that Romero will get the same type of praise.

Market and city has a lot to do with the difference in perceived value but Romero is 11 months younger than Lester and performing at a very similar clip over the past two seasons.  Lester was quite a bit better last year overall (5.6 WAR) but Romero held his own throwing 200+ IPs for the first time in his career (4.0 WAR).

His intense demeanour during his starts is a testament to a desire to win and his light hearted banter with teammates on off days make him an ideal leader and role model in the clubhouse for some of the future Blue Jays arms that are being stockpiled in the minor leagues.  Maybe Tyler Beede was too intimidated to sign with the Jays after one glimpse of Romero’s scowl walking off the mound?

Maybe Blue Jays fans were spoiled all those years watching the legend that is Roy Halladay apply his craft that we don’t appreciate the fact Ricky Romero is developing into a true number one starter.

Blue Jays Spring Training Recap – March 23, 2012

The Blue Jays need to save some of this late-inning heroics for the regular season as they rallied from two runs down to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-5.  Brett Cecil wasn’t sharp tonight and got roughed up over 2.2 IPs, giving up 4 earned while walking 5 batters.  Read the full recap here.

In a matchup of two American League East left-handed starters on Friday night, one took a step in the right direction and the other had some trouble finding the strike zone.

Cecil, on the other hand, had command issues right from the start. He walked the first two batters he faced, setting the stage for Jeff Keppinger’s one-out single to plate leadoff hitter Sean Rodriguez.

After the Blue Jays tied the game on Edwin Encarnacion’s solo home run to lead off the second — his third long ball of the spring — the Rays piled on three runs in the bottom of the inning.

Again, Cecil’s control problems were central to the rally. After Jose Molina singled with one out to get things started, Cecil walked the next three batters to force home a run

Up next: The Blue Jays return to their spring home on Saturday to face the Atlanta Braves. Henderson Alvarez will make his fourth Grapefruit League start at 1:05 p.m. at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium as the Blue Jays began to prep their starters for the regular season. Alvarez, who allowed a run on four hits over three innings against the Yankees on March 14, will increase his pitch count up into the 70-80 range. Sergio Santos, Francisco Cordero, Casey Janssen and Darren Oliver are also scheduled to pitch. Julio Teheran will start for the Braves.

AL Eastbound On Twitter!

  • Way to go Leafs. One winning streak away from a mediocre draft slot. 15 hours ago
  • Why would the nba schedule the Raptors on the same night as the Grey cup? 1 day ago
  • Cory Joseph with the game winning 3pt shot as time expires. Boom. Nice spacing and solid play call by Casey. 2 days ago
  • I really hope the NHL does shrink the goalie equipment so Bernier can finally be a great goaltender. 2 days ago
  • I had no idea Peter Holland was still on Toronto. Definitely didn't see him tonight. 1 week ago

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