Despite being 3 games under .500 and in dead last in the AL East, the Blue Jays will send 4 players to New York’s Citi Field for the 2013 allstar game next week. Steve Delabar, 29, claimed the final vote roster spot and will join teammates Brett Cecil, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion in the AL team clubhouse. This will be Delabar’s first allstar appearance.
For AL relievers this season, Delabar ranks 3rd in strikeouts with 57 and 5th in ERA, posting a stingy 1.74. Delabar picked up his first career save in Wednesday in Toronto’s only win in its series vs. the Indians.
Hard to believe someone with his arm has only 1 career save and it took until this year to get it. Happy to see another Blue Jay in the allstar game, but 4 players from a team with a losing record? Really?
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.
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.
Jose Reyes is set to rejoin the Blue Jays in time for their series finale against Tampa Bay on Wednesday afternoon. During his rehab in both single-A and triple-A, Reyes hit .414 (12 for 29) with a double and six runs scored in 7 games. He even swiped a couple bags.
The Jays have said the Reyes will immediately be placed into the lineup at SS and at the top of the batting order. The Jays have also hinted that Melky Cabrera will be bumped to the 5th spot and Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion will continue to hit in the 2 and 3 holes. While I certainly understand why the Jays would want to ensure both Bautista and Encarnacion get at bats in the first inning, I’m more of a fan of having them hit in their traditional 3 and 4 spots and having Cabrera hit #2. This would give more a chance for RBIs and allow the Jays to run more with Reyes. Are they really going to cut Reyes lose with Bautista and Encarnacion at the plate? I think history shows the Jays will play for the 2-run homer. With Cabrera in the 2 hole, it is smart to run with Reyes, provoke pitchers into wanting to use the open bag and walk Cabrera if they fall behind, and set up an even bigger inning. “A pitcher would never pitch around Cabrera with a bag open if Bautista is behind him” you might say. Well then Cabrera is hitting with a runner in scoring position and a double play is avoided. If Bautista hits #2, Reyes base running talents are not used to their potential. Period.
The biggest question is what corresponding move the Jays will make prior to tomorrow’s game. Who is the odd man out? Munenori Kawasaki? Juan Perez? Dustin McGowan? It will be interesting to see what the Jays do tomorrow. For my thoughts, read yesterday’s blog post on the topic (sorry, Kawasaki).
The Blue Jays have moved Jose Reyes from single-A to triple-A to continue his rehab assignment vs. stiffer competition.
In three games in single-A, Reyes went 5-13 (.385), scored 3 runs, and stole a base.
The Jays have said they want Reyes to play a minimum of three games in triple-A to ensure his timing at the plate isn’t an issue when they bring him back to the big club. And while the Jays haven’t schedule a return date, there is lots of speculation that he will join the team when they depart on a division rival filled roadtrip next Monday – 3 games in Tampa, 4 games in Boston.
In 10 games, Reyes hit .395 with 3 extra-base hits and 5 steals.
Reyes has been out since April 12 when he suffered a severe ankle sprain while stealing second. The Jays will immediately have Reyes resume his role as the starting SS and leadoff hitter upon his return. The question becomes what the rest of the batting order will look like. There is talk that Gibbons might move Melky Cabrera to the 5th spot (currently he is leading off) to keep Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Adam Lind in the 2,3,4 spots. I think this is silly. Put Reyes at the top of the line up, have Cabrera bat 2nd (as was the plan going into the season) and Bautista, Encarnacion, and Lind can round out the heart of the order at 3,4,5.
Barring any setbacks, Reyes looks to be back with the Jays ahead of the original forecast (allstar break) which is very rare for this organization. Usually, the Jays are overly optimistic with recovery times and fans are disappointed. Reyes quick recovery is a pleasant surprise.
It’s been an eventful week for our beloved Blue Jays. Over the past week we’ve seen the following:
- Sean Nolin had a rough debut but in my opinion has good stuff
- Nolin got sent down following his start – wrong move in my opinion and the Jays leave glaring holes in the rotation
- R.A. Dickey got lit up by a potent Orioles offence and then the Braves – he sure isn’t pitching like an ace
- Munenori Kawasaki became a hero while Brett Lawrie became a villian during a walk off win
- Lawrie hit the DL with an ankle sprain
- Colby Rasmus got the better of his brother Cory in a rare pitcher/brother battle at the MLB level by ripping a double
- Brandon Morrow got pulled and is now day-to-day with a right forearm strain
- Casey Janssen’s shoulder kept him out of an extra inning game vs. the Braves and Ramon Ortiz and Thad Weber can’t hold the game
- Ortiz and Weber got sent down, Juan Perez, Neil Wagner, and Todd Redmond – Perez and Wagner back up Esmil Rogers first start sine 2011 to help shutout the Braves (Perez looked amazing)
With all that news, here are my thoughts:
- Don’t call up Nolin just to send him down after one bad outing. It’s worse for his confidence to go up and down than it is to stay up and try again. Especially with no Josh Johnson, an injured Morrow, and a combination of Chad Jenkins/Esmil Rogers plugging holes. If you call a kid up, give him a few starts. Drew Hutchison came up last season and didn’t fair well at first but good pitches make adjustments (and I believe Nolin is a good pitcher). The first three runs he surrendered in the 1st inning vs. the Orioles were due to a seeing eye single, a little bloop single, then a homer off a quality strike down and away. He pitched much better than his line showed – give the kid a chance to redeem himself. If he wasn’t ready for the majors, why call him up in the first place?
- The Jays need to figure out what is wrong with Dickey. I think it’s because of his tight neck and shoulder – the last couple years he consistently hit 80 mph with his knuckler and now it’s more often 74-75 mph. He doesn’t have nearly the control with it as evidence by his walk rate per inning pitched being double compared to his previous three seasons. Dickey needs to make the adjustment of not throwing as hard. Perhaps mixing in more slow knucklers at 60 – 65 mph to make the 75 mph look that much faster. Also, he needs to throw more first pitch fastballs. Opponents are almost always taking the first pitch. Why would you not take at least one strike vs. a knuckleballer?
- Dear Lawrie, you are not mature, you are not playing well, and you should never show up your teammates or coaches – especially on a potential sac fly for a run that means nothing. When you come back from the DL, just shut up, stop whining, and play good, quality baseball with a smile on your face. You’re attitude grew tiresome ages ago.
- Morrow, please don’t say you’re fine when you’re not fine. If you can’t pitch, don’t try. You just screw up the bullpen for the next three games. Enough with the bumped back starts. Just take a 15-day trip to the DL if you have to. With Johnson coming back, it’s the right time to do it if you need to.
- Janssen, I love ya buddy. But really, you felt that much better one day later and could pick up a 1-2-3 save? I would have taken your wonky shoulder over Weber’s third appearance in three days ANY day of the week. I mean, last week we were all saying “who is Thad Weber?” Just be ready to go when we need you. If you can’t pitch after a week off, maybe you should be on the DL also.
- Perez and Wagner – great numbers in triple-A (0.86 and 0.89 ERAs respectively). Keep it up. Maybe we won’t be such a revolving door in the ‘pen.
Final thought – Why not start Edwin Encarnacion at 3B and Adam Lind at 1B during inter-league play vs. righties? If you get a lead, make a defensive substitution. I know Edwin is pretty awful at 3B, but we need to score runs and Lind is leading our team in AVG and is second to only Jose Bautista in OBP. We need to have him in the game for more than one at bat. As a good friend of mine asked me, if Cito could start Paul Molitor at 3B during the ’93 world series in Atlanta, why can’t Gibbons start Edwin there on game 54 of the regular season?
After winning four in a row backed by a red hot offence that bats have gone cold in Yankee Stadium – and the Blue Jays can’t find a way to win at Yankee Stadium.
Friday night, Hiroki Kuroda was virtually unhittable. Not much you can do when a top line pitcher throws like that.
But yesterday’s loss was one that got away. The Jays managed to make David Phelps look like a Cy Young candidate. A rally killing pick off of Jose Bautista to end the 1st inning was very telling of how this game would play out. The Jays went 1-9 with runners in scoring position and left 14 men on bases in total.
And Brandon Morrow, making his first start in a couple weeks, looked sharp. He’s line didn’t reflect how well he threw. He had a live fastball and excellent command. Really the difference in this game was Robinson Cano – with his two homers he moved into first place tie in the American League home run race with 12.
But there are issues in the Jays line up. J.P. Arencibia is ice cold. He is that sort of player. When he is hot, he’s on fire. When he’s cold, they need to bat him 8th in the line up. And right now he is ice.
I mentioned it before and I know that the Jays did win 4 straight with the new-look line up of Melky Cabrera, Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion batting 1, 2, 3, but I’m still not a huge fan. In the last 6 games with this line up, Emilio Bonifacio (who has finally been given consistent playing time – it’s about time) has hit .304. He should be leading off. Period.
Cabrera is the hottest hitter on the team. You have to have someone hitting in front of him with a chance to get on base. Cabrera has been raking doubles lately and you have to wonder how many would score Bonifacio from firstbase. Probably any of them if he was on.
Today we have R.A. Dickey vs. CC Sabathia. This one could go either way, but we really need a win. Lose today and we’re 11 back in the division – ouch. With a win, we can crawl back to Toronto down 9 with the next 7 games vs. AL East opponents. Let’s hope the knuckleball is doing its thing today.
Lefties are only hitting .195 vs. Sabathia so look for a righty heavy line up today.
For the record, for the 90 win season we need to go 73-46 in the remaining 119 games (play .613 ball the rest of the way). This is still possible, but it’s becoming much less probable with every series loss – especially vs. AL East opponents.
The hope is with Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes on the mend, the Jays can hang in long enough to get the stars back and they play like stars. That’s all we can hope for at this point.