Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow, Wednesday, and with that spring begins and the hope for a good summer renews. The hope level for 2018 will be a little less tomorrow, given the expectations for the Yankees and Red Sox and the low level of activity by the Jays front office.
We are all aware of what an odd off-season this has been. The big game of chicken between teams, and the players and agents continues. This does give the Jays the ability to add to the team, and the budget is there, but the Jays are trying to get a deal that the players don't want to sign up for. There is a risk that the Jays come out empty handed, if a couple of starting pitchers sign multi-year deals, other teams panic and decide that a multi-year offer is necessary to get their player, and the Jays are left holding their one year offer with no takers.
Pre-season forecasts have the Jays a few games above .500 or a few games below. With the Jays still to add to the team that number should change, but it could for other teams too. The Red Sox's dalliance with JD Martinez continues. If he signs the Red Sox win total will increase too. The Jays win expectation is very dependent on injuries and playing time for the key players.
Many have noted that the lack of injuries helped the Jays in their playoff years, and the large number of injuries hurt the Jays last season. There are some big injury related questions still open, and they might not be answered in the spring. There are mumbles out there that Troy Tulowitzki might not be ready to start spring training. There has been no official statement on this but it will be interesting to see where he is at with his rehab. The health of Devon Travis is always an issue, spring or regular season. And Aaron Sanchez is trying to fix his blister issues. We will only get a read on that when Sanchez gets his pitch counts up. Blisters come from repetitive use and in Sanchez's case, his curve ball. Will he change the grip on his curve, or will he reduce the number of those pitches he throws?
The Jays have signed several relievers to minor league deals. This is because the 40 man roster has little room to maneuver. If we assume some of those pitchers will be added at the end of spring training then either the Jays will have to use the 60 day disabled list or they will have to take some players off. The end of spring training is usually the easiest time to get someone off the 40 man without them being claimed, but the risk is there.
Jerry Howarth is retiring after 36 years in the booth. Jerry had missed time over the last couple of years with health issues and those health issues are the reason for his retirement. Jerry is reportedly one of the nicest guys in baseball so he will be a loss. Speculation will mount as to who will replace Jerry. People get used to a voice, and people hate change, so whoever takes over will get a rough ride for a while. Mike Wilner is the obvious replacement, he has been filling in for a couple of years now and he has lobbied heavily for the job. I also assume he would be cheap and he is Canadian. There are probably better guys out there but I assume the Canadian content will win out. If Wilner does get the job then someone else would have to do the post game show. That might make it listenable to again.
There were some comments in the last thread about "Gerry's website". This is not mine. Coach and a few others started Batters Box back in 2002. I didn't join until 2004. There is a group of posters who comprise the "roster'. Major decisions are discussed as a group. I generally take the public facing roles as the most senior member of the roster but I don't decide things on my own. The biggest issues we face are poster behaviour. We try and be the most articulate of the Blue Jay blogs and I think we succeed in that goal. Back in the mid 2000's blogs were new and a welcome antidote to the newspaper reports. Now traditional media have moved into the blog space and twitter demands immediate responses and short takes. This has reduced the news aspect of blogs but the opportunity for an in depth discussion remains a major feature of sites like ours. Sometimes that discussion goes too far. In general over the years we have been slow to censor. That remains our principle but some posters test our limits occasionally.
Finally, games begin on the 23rd, in ten days time. It can't come soon enough.