Your 2014 Toronto Blue Jays appear to be set now, unless a trade happens.
And so the last week of spring training begins. This week includes a trip to Montreal before the team reverses direction and returns to Tampa to face the Rays one week from today. Things are looking better today than they did a week or two ago. Back then it looked like no-one wanted to be the fifth starter, now we have a competition. But first the news. Anthony Gose, Mike Nickeas, Chris Getz and Steve Tolleson were all sent down today. It will be interesting to see how Gose reacts to his demotion, he was unhappy last year to be sent down. Gose improved his hitting as spring training progressed and finishes with a 250 average. He needs to show some hitting skills in AAA. In other news Munenori Kawasaki will not be part of the team but he remains in camp. I assume that if he can catch on with a major league team the Jays will let him go. Finally Jose Reyes is going for an MRI on his hamstring. The Jays say it is just to confirm that nothing major is wrong but it doesn't sound good.
There has been a lot of talk of the 'good old days' lately - how a deeper bench is more useful than a bigger bullpen. But how true is that? Lets try to find out.
As we get ready for another season I thought I would spotlight a few players for whom 2014 will be a make or break year. This category fits players whose prospect staus is on the bubble or almost gone. The top prospects are generally not in the make or break category, they are on a path to the majors, they will get a second chance if they have a bad year. Newly drafted players would not be make or break, they still have time to fix any problems or recover from a bad season or bad half-season. Make or break are players who have been in the system for several years and have hit some bumps in the road, and those bumps could knock them out of baseball if the player cannot overcome them.
Yesterday I looked at the expected assignments for hitters coming out of spring training. Today I will look at the starting pitchers. Usually to start the season there will be at least one starter per two teams that is on the DL so for some teams I will list six starters.
It is only a couple of weeks until the 2014 minor league rosters will be announced. Today I am discussing my predictions of the opening day assignments for the hitters. Tomorrow I will look at starting pitchers.
The rotation appears set now, Dickey - Hutchison - Buehrle - Happ - Morrow. Set that way so Morrow will start vs the Yankees in the home opener.
The Blue Jays need to draft and develop talent successfully to drive winning at the major league level. Alex Anthopoulos adopted this as a core belief and when he was hired as general manager he focused on improving the Jays drafting and player development. How successful has this new approach been? AA has been on the job for just four years, which is too early to fully judge his drafts, but we can make some observations.
On Saturday it seemed as though Ervin Santana was about to sign with his new team. By 5pm that thought was gone. The news from last week suggested that Santana had sort of changed agents. He still has the same agent but the agent was no longer with the same company and the principal of the agency who had been calling the shots was now out of the picture. With that change the internet was alive with the news that Santana had decided to sign a one year deal with a team and the Jays were one of the teams that were rumoured to be interested. There was a flurry of activity on Saturday and then silence. There could be a decision in the next few days. Ken Rosenthal is reporting this morning that several of the Jays players made a come to the Jays sign and had a photo taken of themselves holding it before sending it to Santana. Santana is from the Dominican Republic, like many of the Jays players.
The first week of spring training was somewhat like the off-season, not much to report. The Jays won three games then lost two. The Jays will pay seven games this week before taking the next two Monday's off. This year the Jays have only one split squad day and that is a day when one of the games is against Canada's Junior team.
Things have gotten kind of slow around here so let's have some fun...
Spring training games start this week, on Wednesday to be precise. I know the game is on MLB Network, a channel that I can get, and it's free for now. The Thursday and Friday games are on Sportsnet 1 and regular Sportsnet respectively. Saturdays game is on the radio and Sunday's is shown on MLB Network on a delay. If you can get the MLB Network and Sportsnet you can see lots of baseball this week.
Elsewhere there is not much to report, the Jays do not appear to be interested in any free agents, Scott Boras thinks Rogers is a cheap owner, and the Jays added another AAA pitcher in Liam Hendricks. That transaction leaves Brett Morel in the waiver dark-zone.
My yearly bible finally found its way to my door! The Baseball America 2014 Prospect Handbook
has compiled its top 30 prospects for all 30 major league teams. The Toronto Blue Jays farm system is right in the middle of the pack according to BA - ranking 15th out of 30 teams - a drop of three spots from 2013.
made the biggest leap in the Top 30 rankings, jumping 20 spots from last year to rank as the Jays' fourth best prospect in 2014.
Today was the first day of camp for pitchers and catchers. Sunday was physicals day and the pitchers will start their throwing programs tomorrow. The pitchers are alone for a few days until Thursday when position players are due to report. The first spring training game is a week from Wednesday, on the 26th.
I have talked with some of my minor league contacts over the last few days to get updated on winter news before they head to Florida at the end of this week for spring training. Here are some notes from those conversations.