Blue Jays 1st Round Pick Unlikely to sign

Yesterday, GM Alex Anthopoulos finally came out and said it – The Blue Jays don’t expect to sign their first round pick (10th overall), Phil Bickford.

Bickford’s recommended slot value is approximately $2.9 million.  The Jays have been able to save money by signing other draft picks under slot, so it doesn’t appear that money is the issue.  The media is speculating that the Jays might have discovered something when Bickford underwent a physical that now make them reluctant to sign Bickford for the dollars it will take to pry him away from attending Cal State Fullerton next year.  MLB teams do not have access to players medical records prior to the draft.

Bickford is a 17-year-old right-hander who finished his senior year in high school with a 1.72 ERA, while allowing 44 hits and recording 159 strikeouts in 99.1 innings.

The Jays have until this evening to sign Bickford.  If they don’t, which is the likely scenario, the Jays will receive a compensation pick in the 2014 draft if they offered a minimum 40% of slot value.  Anthopoulos has stated publicly that the Jays will indeed receive a compensation pick if Bickford chooses not to sign.

It’s discouraging that the Jays won’t land their top pick for the second time in three years (2011 – Tyler Beede).  But at least they will get a compensation pick and I suppose we should give them credit for aggressively pursuing the youngster heralded as having the best highschool arm in the draft.

@IHRTBJs

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Injury Report – Morrow, Santos, Lawrie

Here’s a bit of insight into how a few of our boys are progressing with rehab:

Brandon Morrow – He threw 25 pitches during a side session on Tuesday and is scheduled to throw again on Friday.  Morrow has been on the DL since May 28 because of soreness in his right forearm.  At first, the Jays thought Morrow would only require the minimum 15 days off but it now looks like he won’t be able to rejoin the team until sometime in August (big surprise).  The Jays want Morrow, 28, to make at least 3 rehab starts and there is still no timetable of when he’ll make his first of the three.  After his session of Friday, we could hear more.  Stay tuned.

Sergio Santos –  He has been making appearances in single-A but has not been able to pitch on back-to-back days – something the Jays say is a must before he rejoins the team.  Arguably the biggest offseason acquisition two years ago, Santos has only pitched in 11 games for the Jays and has lost his closer role.  The surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow appears to have been successful and Santos is optimistic that he’ll be able to return shortly after the allstar break (although this is the same Santos that said he wouldn’t have to go on the DL – twice).

Brett Lawrie – He was promoted from double-A to triple-A and played for Buffalo last night going 2-4 with a homer, 3 RBI, and a stolen base.  During 3 games in double-A, Lawrie went 3 – 9 with four walks.  Interestingly, the Jays had Lawrie play 2B last night in triple-A, not his usually 3B.  To me, it seems unlikely that Lawrie will move to 2B unless the Jays acquire another player to play 3B.  It makes more sense to have current fill-in, Maicer Izturis, play 2B.  I suppose you could have Edwin Encarnacion play 3B and move Lawrie to 2B, but that leave Adam Lind at 1B with no power DH bat.  Perhaps this is just a move to see what Lawrie looks like for when the Jays play interleague and lose the DH.  In that case, it would make sense to get Lawrie some reps at 2B.  The 23-year-old is recovering from an ankle sprain and could rejoin the team at anytime.  The Jays simply want to make sure Lawrie’s timing at the plate is back and not rush him.  If he has another solid offensive performance in his next triple-A game, I imagine the Jays will immediately move him to the big club and cut Munenori Kawasaki.     

@IHRTBJs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Jays Allstar Selections Deserving?

I know the allstar game is for fans, but I’m not a fan of fan voting.  Too many times it’s a popularity contest and the players that earn a spot are snubbed.  The allstar game is by far the best in the four major North American sports.  Football – after the Super Bowl with no blitzing.  Really?  Hockey – a sport that only catches my eye when the gloves drop isn’t about to thrill my in a gentlemen’s version of the game.  Basketball – not bad.  A great show.  But no defence.

Baseball’s allstar game – the best hitters vs. the best pitchers with World Series homefield advantage on the line.  Amazing.

That’s why the best players should make it.  Not the fans favourites.

The Blue Jays currently have 3 players representing the team at the allstar game: Jose Bautista (voted in by fans), Edwin Encarnacion (voted in by MLB players), and Brett Cecil (selected by AL manager Jim Leyland).  There is also a very good chance that Steve Delabar will claim that last spot on the AL roster with – you guessed it – another fan vote.

The question becomes, are these Jays deserving?

I have trouble thinking someone who isn’t batting at least .280 as deserving (if not .300 – we want to see the best, right?).  So is it a roster determined by the first half of 2013 or a roster determined by the best player by position?

Even though Bautista has been up and down (just like the Jays), he is still arguably the best RF in the AL.  So I can see why he makes the squad.  Bautista has been named to the allstar team in each of the past four seasons. He’s enjoying another productive year at the plate despite struggling at times during June.  The 32-year-old is tied for seventh in home runs (20), third in walks (47), 10th in OPS (.872) and 12th in slugging (.511).

Encarnacion has been the Jays MVP this season in my opinion and is deserving.  Encarnacion will appear at his first allstar game after being a surprise snub in 2012.  He ranks among the league leaders in virtually every major offensive category.  The 30-year-old finished Toronto’s game against Minnesota on Saturday afternoon ranked third in home runs (23), sixth in extra-base hits (38), seventh in runs (54) and ninth in OPS (.877).

Cecil – a middle reliever – really?  Yes REALLY.  I think it’s great that the teams are taking more middle relief guys.  Typically we see only starters and closers.  The middle relief role is extremely under appreciated and Cecil has been among the best in the business so far this year (if you’ve followed my blog from the start, you’ll remember I’ve been suggesting Cecil in this role all along and even discussed it with GM Alex Anthopoulos).  Cecil, 27, is a former starter who was converted into a reliever late last season. He experienced a drop in velocity a couple of years ago, but now consistently throws in the mid-90s while also possessing a devastating curveball that has proved lethal to his opponents.  He set a franchise record earlier this year by going through 40 at-bats without surrendering a hit. He also went through a span of 20 innings without allowing a run and has become one of the elite left-handed relievers in the league (you’re welcome, Anthopoulos).

So if we are including middle relievers, why not Steve Delabar.  Include him too.  Vote!  Delabar’s inclusion along with Cecil’s would be a testament to the job the Jays’ bullpen has done this season.   Since May 29, the Blue Jays’ relief corps leads the Majors in ERA (1.45), opponents’ average (.177) and WHIP (0.92).

But here’s the thing: I don’t have a problem with any of these 4 guys making the roster, but when you step back and look at it, well, it starts to irritate me.  Why should a team that is in last place in its division and under .500 take up 4 roster spots?  What does that say about the other 21 guys on the Jays bench?

If I’m a big fan of another AL team and I see 4 Jays on the roster, it would piss me off.  So while all 4 guys are deserving – they are among the elite for their respective positions – it puzzles me that the Jays are a) playing so poorly and b) sending 4 players to the allstar game.

If you’ve never watched the allstar game, make sure you do.  It’s the best in sports.

@IHRTBJs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Jays Release Hernandez

Well, that was short lived.

The Blue Jays released catcher Ramon Hernandez after only 5 games in triple-A.  The Jays had signed him to a minor league deal after the Dodgers released him in June.  Hernandez, 37, is most likely looking at the end of his playing career.

The depth of a veteran catcher never hurts, but losing Hernandez won’t hurt either.

@IHRTBJs

Injury Update – Lawrie and Cabrera

In case you’ve been wondering the status of either Brett Lawrie’s rehab or Melky Cabrera’s wonky knee, I’d thought I’d give you a brief update.

Brett Lawrie – After playing 6 games low-A, Lawrie has now joined the organization’s double-A team.  The Jays are intent of giving Lawrie as much time as he needs to get his timing down at the plate after rushing him off the DL in April.  In low-A, Lawrie went 0 – 6 with 2 walks.  The 23-year-old 3B was batting .209 with a .268 obp in 37 games before spraining his ankle.  It’s reported the Jays are not asking Lawrie to make any mechanical adjustments to his “moving-parts” swing.  Why they aren’t taking the opportunity to do this now is beyond me.

Melky Cabrera – It’s no surprise that even though Cabrera will be eligible to come off the DL two games prior to the allstar break that the team will likely use the break as a few extra days off before having Cabrera return to the club.  The LF did some running this week and has been constantly taking batting practice.  All signs point to Cabrera joining the team immediately following the allstar break.

@IHRTBJs

 

 

Draft Signing Update

The Blue Jays continue to be the most successful club at signing its draftees below slot value.  It appears the “signability” issues that dropped the Jays #1 pick, Phil Bickford to #10 overall might not be an issue anymore.  It has been reported that Bickford’s family wants him to receive a minimum of $3 million – if not he would enter college and play on his full ride with Cal State Fullerton.  The recommended slot value for the #10 overall pick is $2,921,400 and the Jays had a total of $6,398,200 to spend in this year’s Draft (ranks 17th in the MLB).

The Jays recently signed 2nd round pick, Clinton Hollon for $467,000 – about 40% below the slot value of $1,168,000 for the #47 overall pick.  Hollon was slated to pitch in college for Kentucky this year if he didn’t sign.  But during a physical, there appeared to be an issue with Hollon’s ulnar collateral ligament (the ligament that is replaced with a procedure known as “Tommy John Surgery”).  Hollon, therefore, wanted to secure some cash instead of risking having his value drop due to injury in a 2014 college season.  Hollon has previously thrown as hard as 95 mph and is known for his sharp slider.  It remains to be seen what happens with his elbow, but since all young pitchers risk injury on the long climb to the MLB level and Tommy John surgery is quite common, this seems like a low risk, money saving signing.

The Blue Jays have also just signed 6th round pick, Matt Boyd for $75,000 – much less than his slot value of $250,000.  Boyd, a left-hander, has pitched as both a reliever and a starter for Oregon State.  While the Jays will probably let Boyd start until he proves unsuccessful, he projects as a low-angle lefty reliever (think Aaron Loup).

The Jays have now saved a MLB leading $1.8 million against their bonus pool which will no doubt aid the signing of Bickford.  Bickford, you’ll remember, has the ability to hit 97 mph with his fastball.  He also mixes in a slider and change-up.  If the Jays are able to convince him to forego college and sign, they will do what many other MLB clubs thought couldn’t be done and possibly get a steal with the #10 overall pick.  Bickford was widely considered the top highschool arm in the Draft, but also indicated he was leaning towards pitching at least one season for Cal State.

@IHRTBJs

 

Blue Jays Talk moves up the Top 50 charts

Another big thank you to all the followers and readers of this blog.  MLB has posted the June stats and “Blue Jays Talk” has not only kept its top 50 status for MLB blogs written by fans, but also took a big jump from number 50 up to number 31.

The other Blue Jays blog in the top 50, “The Blue Jays Dugout” also inched upwards from #31 to #29.

Thanks again for your support.  If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing…

@IHRTBJs

Top 50 MLB blogs written by fans below:

http://mlblogs.mlblogs.com/2013/07/05/latest-leaders-june-2013/

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Blue Jays Talk and Talkin’ Rockies both made big jumps up in June…
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2. The AustralianBaseballDigest
3. The Brewer Nation
4. A’s Farm
5. Beisbol 007
6. Cook & Sons’ Baseball Adventures
7. Pinstripe Birthdays
8. Ballparks on a Budget
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10. The Ballpark Guide
11. mlbblogger
12. Prospects2Pros
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15. The Baseball Haven
16. Born on Third
17. Where Everyone’s a Giant
18. Dodger Blue World
19. Minoring In Baseball
20. Los bigleaguers
21. Fish Fry
22. 9 Inning Know It All
23. Phillies Phollowers
24. The Cub Den
25. 7000 Coliseum Way
26. Formerly Fausto: A Baseball Blog
27. The Master Debaters: MLB
28. Rockin’ Redlegs
29. The Blue Jays Dugout
30. The Rays Rant
31. Blue Jays Talk
32. The Best MLBlog
33. Talkin’ Rockies
34. eltubeyero22
35. Cream City Cables
36. More Splash Hits
37. TheBaseballPHD
38. TheCutoffMan
39. The Yankee Dinosaur
40. Cubs Crossings
41. Big Apple Baseball Blog
42. Miami Carlins Fantasy Baseball
43. Rox Addict
44. Hoppers Fan
45. This is a very simple game…
46. Great Scot!
47. Head First Slide Productions
48. Prospect Productions
49. Bjarkman’s Latino and Cuban League Baseball History Page
50. The Ballhawker