Blue Jays Morning Brew: Stroman, Pillar, Pompey & Martin
Well, another weekend has passed without a move to improve this team heading into Spring Training. But, let’s look at what has been going on in Blue Jay Land lately.
If you’re really looking forward to the 2015 season and wish to plan your summer, the Blue Jays are going to start opening up Single Game Ticket sales on Feb. 18/15.
The Blue Jays just wrapped up a coaching clinic this weekend as Rob Jack tells us at MLB.com. The clinic was put on for 500 amateur coaches from all over Canada. It was a chance for coaches to learn from sessions devoted to all aspects of the game. As former Blue Jays, Duane Ward said, the goal of the clinic is to “give back to the development of Canadian baseball”. Other instructors include Homer Bush and Candy Maldonado.
Next: Is Preston Guilmet Primed for a 2015 Breakout?
At The Sun, Bob Elliott tells us that the big Canadian players Justin Morneau, Joey Votto and Larry Walker have given their approval of the offseason moves the Blue Jays have made. Each gives the thumbs up on the signing of Russell Martin and trade for Josh Donaldson. It is interesting to hear Votto speak of the climate that will be much better this coming season. It may tell us lots that someone from outside the organization thinks the new guys will improve the clubhouse. And, what brought these Canadian boys together? Well, Martin was honoured with his name on Baseball Canada’s Wall of Excellence. Martin joins not only the three above, but Jason Bay, Ryan Dempster and Ernie Whitt.
One of the moves that the above approve of is the acquisition of Josh Donaldson. But, at ESPN.com, David Schoenfield wonders if Donaldson’s performance has actually peaked. Given that Donaldson broke in at an older age with such force, it is difficult to predict a career arc for him. His immense WAR value over the last 2 seasons makes it even more difficult to predict where he is going and for how long. Not many have taken this type of path. But, Schoenfield does manage to find a few comparisons, namely, Ben Zobrist and Edgar Martinez, among others. If the Blue Jays can get the kind of value the Rays and Mariners got from these two well into their 30s, it certainly bodes well for the 4 years of team control the Blue jays have with Donaldson.
At Sportsnet.ca, Nick Ashbourne describes the company Dalton Pompey is facing as a 22 year old about to start his first full season with a big league club. Ashbourne provides us with a list of players who took over as full time CF at 22 or younger. Pompey would be in with Mike Trout, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Gomez to name a few. If Pompey can even hang with these type of players, the Blue Jays would have to consider his season a huge success. In order to do so, Ashbourne gives us a ‘target’ for his performance. He’d need to hit in the neighborhood of .280/.341/.422 with 13 HR and 61 RBI. If we look at his performance last season as he rocketed through the system, these numbers may not be too far off. Still, it is a lot to expect.
Shi Davidi tells us that free agent, John Axford is looking to re-establish himself as a closer at the major league level. As well, he admits that the Blue Jays have been in contact with him regarding the upcoming 2015 season. While Axford admits that there is “just interest” at this point, he is chomping at the bit to regain his former glory in the closer’s role and is excited that there may be an opportunity to do so in his native country.
Axford was really honest in stating where things are in the process and what his thinking is: “It’s been pretty even, I’d say, across the board. It would really be based on offers, that’s where the rankings would come in and obviously the fit with the team, where the team is and what the team has accomplished or wants to accomplish. That’s where the rankings come in for me. Right now it’s just interest, and we’ll take it from there.”
To add fuel to this idea, Richard Griffin runs down all of the reasons why Axford to the Blue Jays makes so much sense. The team has a need at closer, he lives close by and has young kids that could use the stability of dad working so close and, of all things, the Toronto International Film Festival. Axford is a well known film connoisseur as evidenced (as stated by Griffin) by his perfect 18 for 18 in picking last year’s Oscar Awards.
More from Toronto Blue Jays News
- Blue Jays: Alek Manoah on pace to succeed in possible postseason
- Blue Jays: Bradley Zimmer has carved himself a valuable role
- Anthony Bass has been the shutdown reliever the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. open to a long-term contract
- Blue Jays: Snapping cold streaks at the right time
At Hardball Talk, Drew Silva tell us that the whole ‘Blue Jays courting Dan Duquette’ thing is not over. If this is true, the Jays must really want Beeston’s successor as club president sealed up quickly. Of course, this may all amount to a whole lot of nothing since Orioles owner, Peter Angelos has stated that he will not allow Duquette to go to the Blue Jays. As stated, though, if Angelos were to allow this to happen, he’d be seeking some major compensation in the form of a player (or two). And, it would likely be more than the Mike Aviles for John Farrell deal.
Over at BlueJaysFromAway.com, Jay Blue takes a deep look at the struggles of Kevin Pillar to see where the problem comes from. Aside from his plate discipline, it may actually go deeper than that. As Jay points out, Pillar never faced much difficulty until he reached the big leagues. It can be hard for a guy to go through so many levels without having to really grind and try to figure out how to overcome struggles. Then, to have to do so at the hardest level has to be near impossible. On the bright side, though, Jay expects big things from Pillar in 2015.
At FakeTeams.com, Timothy Finnegan picks Marcus Stroman as a 2015 breakout candidate. Now, I’ve already dubbed him the Ace of the Staff through a lengthy process. But, Finnegan furthers this point. One of the reasons he gives for the choice of Stroman is the increased use of his sinker near the middle of July. In his last 12 starts, Stroman threw it 23% of the time to good results. He also states the movement on his 2-seam fastball induces league leading soft contact. You should check out Finnegan’s piece for all the evidence of Stroman’s stuff in GIF form.
Marcus Stroman warms up at Fenway Park. July, 2014. Credit: S Doyle
Speaking of Stroman, at The Star, Manisha Krishnan gives us the rundown on Stroman’s new trademark: HDMH or Height Doesn’t Measure Heart. At first, it was a phrase that embodied his bulldog approach. Being 5’8″ (he’s not sure why they say he’s 5’9″) he has had to prove over and over that his height is not a hindrance. Stroman plans on using this trademark slogan to sell athletic pants and shirts. Hopefully it lasts longer than the whole Team Unit thing. Anyone remember that?
Finally, if you’re really hungry for some discussion, Ian Hunter (Blue Jays Hunter) will be hosting a Google Hangout session Wednesday January 14th at 8:00pm EST. He provides you with all of the info HERE. You can also send in some questions ahead of time if you wish.