This is a recap of the Jay Bird watching podcast featuring hosts Craig Borden and Ken Alfred. This week’s guest on the show was Scott Belford from The Walkoff podcast.
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After lamenting Team Canada’s fresh loss to Mexico at the World Baseball Classic, Scott launched into an impromptu story about the R.A. Dickey plaque perched on the wall behind him. That inspired a similarly entertaining story by Craig about longtime Pirates, Marlins, and Tigers Manager Jim Leyland.
Things then shifted to the topic of Spring Training and how well the team has looked in recent days and what, if any impact that has on the start of the regular season.
Scott was observant in pointing out the apparent change in philosophy by the front office in bringing in more high-ceiling players on the fringes of the roster. Edwin Encarnación’s comments about how this team is more complete than the 2015-16 team were dished on.
The amount of young, quality arms that will likely start the season in Triple-A speaks to the amount of depth the Jays possess and how much that has been valued. The strong performances of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette were highlighted as positive signs by Ken.
Matt Chapman’s slow start and Alek Manoah’s somewhat shaky performance this week were areas of slight concern for Ken while Craig would love Alejandro Kirk to get more at-bats in the leadup to Opening Day.
Scott is prescient in pointing out that the fact that Kirk is only getting into games this week is a reason for Manoah’s relative early struggles and is looking forward to seeing how Kirk, Brandon Belt and Danny Jansen all find playing time.
Santiago Espinal and Otto Lopez are two other players enjoying some early success and Scott likes Lopez’s chances to make the team. Addison Barger and Nathan Lukes are other possibilities to earn the final roster spot.
The developing second base battle between Espinal, Whit Merrifield, and Cavan Biggio has been another fun spring storyline and the initial health of Kevin Kiermaier and George Springer is music to Jays fans' ears.
As great as the season outlook is, dealing with and reaching the lofty expectations attached to the team is a marathon, not a sprint.
Encarnación and Pat Hentgen being brought on as coaches is another sign of the Blue Jays have a bit more of a serious approach to the game. The home run jacket being laid to rest was sent around the horn one last time. The crew wonders if there will be a new home run celebration this year.
Craig throws out the opening few series of the season and how the Jays could fare against some early competition. The lack of April division games and the quality of opponents, or lack thereof was discussed.
A lot of folks seem to be sleeping on the Tampa Bay Rays, which is always a dangerous thing to do and the massive importance of this season in particular was batted around.
Scott gushes over Bo Bichette’s upcoming season and recent comments about his confidence in who he is as a player.
The guys end the show with a fun game by naming the fictional podcast that team-associated people could host.