Feb 18, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Erik Kratz as the Blue Jays workout atBobby Mattick
Training Center. Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Ashbourne of Bluebird Banter asks if Edwin Encarnacion can be even better in 2014 than he’s been the past two seasons. Based on his elite level of play in 2012 and 2013 it would be a difficult feat to accomplish but Nick gives us several indicators as to why we may see another breakout from Edwin. Most notably he points to Encarnacion’s insane 2.12 BB/K rate in last year’s second half, which combined with some better luck on balls in play, could make for a monster offensive season for the right-handed slugger.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com says the Blue Jays have to better than last season, right? He thinks with better health the offense “has a chance to lead the league in runs scored” and with Ryan Goins at second base could be “way better defensively”. He also points out the fact there is no WBC should help the Jays who were crushed by the event to start last season. The rotation is still a question mark but Starks concludes “there’s actually a lot more reason for optimism about this rotation than the outside world seems to have comprehended.” Let’s hope he’s right.
In another piece at ESPN.com, Stark shares that neither of the Blue Jays’ new catchers, Dioner Navarro or Erik Kratz, are fans of MLB’s proposed new home plate collision rule. Josh Thole, who was knocked out at the plate in 2012 and hasn’t been the same since, was not surprisingly left out of Stark’s pro-collision write-up. However Thole’s injury might be a good example of how little this new rule might do, or how many new injuries it could create, since he wasn’t really blocking the plate and was clipped in an awkward tag attempt. Maybe catchers will have to stand further from the plate now in order to avoid putting themselves in a vulnerable position? Anyways enough of that, let’s move on.
John Lott of the National Post and others wrote about the 16-25 pounds of muscle Brandon Morrow put on this off-season. Manager John Gibbons explains, “He looks strong. He looks like he’s supposed to look. Last year he didn’t look like that.” As a skinny guy myself I take slight offense to the looks like he’s supposed to look part but I guess that’s why I’m a blogger and not a Blue Jays’ starting pitcher.
Batter’s Box looks at Baseball America’s ranking of the Toronto Blue Jays top 30 prospects for 2014.
Jonah Keri of Grantland says in his rankings of all 30 MLB teams “as constructed, the Jays still look like a last-place team, maybe fourth-place at best. And given both Santana’s tendency to serve up long balls and the strength of the division’s top teams, dishing out $50 million to cap a suspiciously quiet offseason might not make much of a difference.” Ouch, the truth hurts.
Jesse Spector of the Sporting News looks at Goins’ underwhelming competition for the starting 2B gig, which is primarily composed of Maicer Izturis but Spector also names Jonathan Diaz, Chris Getz, Munenori Kawasaki, Kevin Nolan, and Steven Tolleson as long-shots.
Mike Petriello of FanGraphs look at what Toronto can do to fix the problem at second base.
Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star says the Blue Jays shouldn’t rely on Triple-A depth if they want to compete in 2014.
And at his blog North of the Border, Gregor Chisholm gives us early impressions from camp and mostly notably an update on the organization’s opinion on Kratz. Chisholm goes on to say “Kratz won’t be able to make the team unless he proves capable of handling the knuckleball but if he can overcome that obstacle he’s going to head north. The organization loves the upside of his bat and will be looking for a reason to keep him on the 25-man roster.” It sounds like the late-blooming Kratz may in fact turn out to be the pickup of the off-season for the Toronto Blue Jays.