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Road trip! Beginning in quaint little Fenway Park.

As you probably recall, the Blue Jays had their way with the Red Sox in 2022, beating them 16 times in 19 tries. The Jays have an eight game winning streak in Fenway Park itself. Surely this can not continue forever, as swell as that would be.

The Red Sox were the consensus pick to finish last in the AL East this season - it's where they ended up a year ago. Losing star shortstop Xander Bogaerts in free agency seemed unlikely to make them better. They would have moved Trevor Story back to shortstop, after he spent his first season in Boston playing second base, but Story is out for at least the first half of the season with a bad elbow (everyone seems to be trying their utmost to avoid Tommy John surgery.)

But the Sox are hanging in there so far - they've managed to win more games than they've lost (barely, they're 15-14), mostly by scoring lots of runs. They need to do this, because they give up lots of runs as well. Just two teams in the AL are scoring more frequently; just three have been scored on more frequently.

Some of this is surely a park effect - Fenway will always be Fenway, even if it's not the hitter's paradise  it was Back in the Day. It's not the Red Sox have a particularly scary lineup. For every decent hitter they have, like Devers or Yoshida, there's another guy who mostly makes outs, like Casas or Arroyo.


Mon 1 May - Berrios (2-3, 4.71) vs Kluber (1-4, 6.75)
Tue 2 May - Kikuchi (4-0, 3.00) vs Houck (3-1, 4.50)
Wed 3 May - Manoah (1-1, 4.88) vs Pivetta (1-2, 5.11)
Thu 4 May - Gausman (2-2, 2.33) vs Bello (0-1, 6.57)
Toronto at Boston, May 1-4 | 86 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Leaside Cowboy - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 08:08 AM EDT (#428370) #
Nearby, the Boston Celtics host the Philadelphia 76ers for game 1 (Monday) and game 2 (Wednesday) of the NBA eastern conference semi-finals.
Chuck - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 09:14 AM EDT (#428372) #
Unrelated to this series, and purely a function of just browsing BBRef, I nominate Yennier Cano as baseball's most improved player. An argument could also be made for Jarred Kelenic, whom we just watched.
uglyone - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#428375) #
Is Heineman with the Jays?

did they replace Luplow with anyone?
hypobole - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 11:45 AM EDT (#428377) #
Luplow to Buffalo, Lukes to Toronto
Heineman to Buffalo and added to 40 man, Luplow removed and outrighted
uglyone - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 11:58 AM EDT (#428378) #

I like Lukes so i'd like to see him get a shot. But he probably needs more playing time so maybe wait for injury.

I'd be more than fine just carrying a good defensive C like Heineman to sit on the bench every day and free up both Kirk and Jansen for more fulltime duty.
99BlueJaysWay - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 12:46 PM EDT (#428380) #
I don’t think that’s going to happen, uglyone. This was about insurance in the event of injury. I think both Janson and Kirk have shown that they need ample rest to stay healthy and perform at their best
hypobole - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 12:51 PM EDT (#428381) #
In keeping with daBox, I have another complaint. My complaint is too many complaints. Started with the ump yesterday and of course the bullpen meltdown later.

Meanwhile the best player in baseball (FG) or at least best position player in baseball (Ref) went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles. I didn't mention him once during the game, and I don't recall anyone else doing so either.

Mr. Northey prior to the game did mention his 2.0 bWAR. It's 2.0 at FG as well. 2nd best both sites is 1.7.

WAR is supposed to be all encompassing. wRC+ is the batting component and his 219 dwarfs 2nd best Luis Arraez' 188.

I also noticed something else on the wRC+ leaderboard. Highest baserunnning values of the 30 batters were Thairo Estrada 2.0 and Corbin Carroll 1.9. Tied for 3rd with Nimmo and Acuna jr. at 1.4 is the best April batter in baseball.

So let me start May with a huge thank you to Matt Chapman for an awesome April.
Marc Hulet - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 01:40 PM EDT (#428383) #
Rob Brantly, the other catcher at AAA, doesn't have options remaining; they risk losing him if they promote and then demote. The other AAA catcher, Stevie Berman, did have options but he broke a finger.

Heineman has two option years left so there's value there - especially given his MLB experience, solid defence, etc. They also had him in camp in spring 2022, so he's familiar with many of the pitchers, and I don't think they expected to lose him on waivers back then but had a roster crunch.
92-93 - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 02:00 PM EDT (#428384) #
Varsho's presence allows them to start Kirk and Jansen simultaneously anyway. If they faced more lefties we'd see it more often.
hypobole - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 02:10 PM EDT (#428385) #
As far as a 3rd catcher on the roster, Varsho came up as a catcher 2017-2019. Didn't transition to OF until he reached the majors, and caught 31 games/175 innings last year.
Nigel - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 02:24 PM EDT (#428386) #
Varsho hits like a 3rd C:)
Cracka - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 03:17 PM EDT (#428387) #
I'll be surprised if Varsho ever catches for this team; Schneider has made it clear that he's an outfielder. It would only happen in a true emergency situation and never by design or by strategy. He hasn't been practicing as a catcher and there has been zero effort to prep him for catching - he's a full-time outfielder, who used to catch, and therefore the "emergency guy" in case both rostered catchers were unavailable. He'll never start a game as the catcher - or even as the backup... that's why they made the trade to get Heineman.
uglyone - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 05:09 PM EDT (#428388) #
our lineup is just so deep that that last guy will never play unless there's a legit injury.

carrying a vet defensive 3rd catcher so that you can use your two starting-caliber catchers freely for offense makes plenty of sense to me.
John Northey - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 05:42 PM EDT (#428389) #
Now that April is done where do the Jays rank in the majors by sOPS+ (100=average OPS+ for that position) by position?
  • C: 20th at 95, Texas is #1 at 184, Mets #30 at 22
  • 1B: 10th at 123, TB is #1 at 195, Astros #30 at 36
  • 2B: 26th at 54, Miami #1 at 216, ChiSox #30 at 6
  • 3B: 1st at 192, Dodgers #2 at 165, A's #30 at 33
  • SS: 5th at 143, TB #1 at 162, Reds #30 at 48
  • LF: 20th at 81, Seattle #1 at 187, Twins #30 at 57
  • CF: 25th at 79, Boston #1 at 168, KC #30 at 38
  • RF: 21st at 89, Atlanta #1 at 173, NYY #30 at 36
  • DH: 23rd at 77, TB #1 at 200, Seattle #30 at -4 (yes, negative).
  • PH: 2nd at 262 (just 9 PA), Washington #1 at 265, Cleveland #30 at -78
Surprising to see the Jays in the 20's at so many positions - C, 2B, LF, CF, RF, DH. We all knew Chapman would make the 3B #1, Bo & Vlad the only others who pushed their positions to top 10 status. PH is more a fluke than anything I suspect (9 PA isn't much).

Starting pitchers sOPS+ against ranks #8 in the majors (83) vs #1 Tampa's 70 and #30's Oakland at 155 (basically everyone vs Oaklands starting pitchers hits like Bo).
Relief pitchers sOPS+ against ranks #14 at 90 vs #1 Texas (!) at 69 and #30 ChiSox at 154.

So the pen has been a minor issue but nothing compared to our outfield bats. I know I wouldn't have bet on Springer and Varsho both being healthy with OPS+ in the 60's on May 1st. Belt being at 50 was a sad possibility going in, while Biggio (19) and Espinal (43) have been big disappointments at the plate but helped by Merrifield being very good (122). Jansen has been recovering from a horrid start and is up to 72, while Kirk is back to normal at 129.

Right now I suspect the Jays braintrust is hunting for a solid OF bat to add to the mix, to DH mostly and fill in for Varsho, Kiermaier, and Springer as needed. Our 26th man is rarely used, 10 games total for both Lukes & Luplow who've shared that slot. 0-10 with 2 walks and 5 K's, 2 runs scored. Might as well call up a 3rd catcher if that is all an OF backup is going to play. A real RH OF would help more, but I don't see one. Tyler Heineman, a switch hitting catcher, was just 1 for 9 as a Pirate, but lifetime in the minors has hit 284/363/411 and had an 88 OPS+ here last year (16 PA). I'd certainly consider calling him up and sending Lukes back down. Couldn't hurt given how little Lukes has played (6 games, 5 PA).
92-93 - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 06:36 PM EDT (#428390) #
Is there any evidence that Schneider isn't using Jansen and Kirk freely with Varsho as the in-case-of-emergency C?
scottt - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 06:50 PM EDT (#428391) #
At a glance, Boston scores a lot of runs because they can field 7 or 8 left bats on a given night.
That's a real pain for any starter with splits like Manoah and Berrios.

grjas - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 08:54 PM EDT (#428392) #
Hard to get excited about Varsho, Belt and Biggio all in the lineup. Belt in particular has been an unpleasant surprise. Looks like a minor leaguer right now.
Leaside Cowboy - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 09:06 PM EDT (#428393) #
I would rather not have Varsho catching, near as much as having Belt play the outfield. In an emergency, Espinal can catch, I believe.

The 26th player rarely appears, and so I also support carrying a defensive 3rd catcher. It is unusual.
Nigel - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 09:11 PM EDT (#428394) #
It’s a thin lineup tonight that’s for sure. I thought they were walking a fine line with Berrios all night. He clearly didn’t have his best stuff. He battled hard but it was a struggle. I thought the hook was a bit slow tonight.
Leaside Cowboy - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 09:23 PM EDT (#428395) #
thank you to Matt Chapman for an awesome April.

Dan Shulman quipped: " If [Chapman] is not the Player of the Month, there needs to be an investigation. "

92-93 - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 09:25 PM EDT (#428396) #
That Kirk PH for Belt makes it clear Schneider isn't hesitating to make moves considering he just lost his backup C in the 7th inning.
Magpie - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 09:43 PM EDT (#428397) #
I thought the hook was a bit slow tonight.

Me too. Letting him face Valdez was questionable but I was especially surprised he let Berrios pitch to McGuire. It's only McGuire, but you'd still rather have Mayza set up for three straight LH batters, instead of two and Justin Turner. I wonder if Mayza simply wasn't warm in time.
grjas - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 09:49 PM EDT (#428398) #
Pearson is looking like a weapon. And a needed one.
greenfrog - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 10:18 PM EDT (#428399) #
Seems like Horwitz could potentially become the LH DH/1B if Belt is still struggling in a few weeks. Belt has a 44.1% K rate at the moment. That is shockingly bad.
Leaside Cowboy - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 11:15 PM EDT (#428400) #
In the NHL playoffs, Boston, both New York teams, Los Angeles, Colorado (reigning champion), Tampa Bay (runner-up), and Minnesota have all been eliminated in the first round. And sadly, Canada's beloved Winnipeg Jets.

The sports pundits frequently refer to the mysterious league offices in Lower Manhattan. Not far from Wall Street, where the power brokers of professional sports exhibit the same wolfish preference for major markets and more money.

I perceive it as if cheering for a dividend. Lost upon the profiteering is the grassroots growth for the sport across the country. Related rancour over all star games is also silly, though baseball has clearly the best of the lot.

I passed economics 100 with 50 %. True story.
John Northey - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 11:19 PM EDT (#428401) #
Magpie - that makes a ton of sense - Mayza just couldn't get ready in time for whatever reason. These are human beings after all, not robots. Somedays they get ready as quick as normal, other days quicker, others slower. The slower days are a nightmare as then you have to leave someone else in longer. In the past we'd see multiple mound visits from the catcher, lots of the pitcher wandering off the mound between pitches, etc. in an effort to give that reliever extra time to get ready. No more, and I'm thankful for that even if it burned the Jays tonight.

Figures right after I say how rarely the 26th man is used he'd be used tonight. But he was used because Belt isn't what he was supposed to be - a masher of RH pitching. If he was then he'd have been left in the game. If we had a 3rd catcher on the bench then after that move C #3 would've been at 1B, Biggio still in RF most likely. Heineman has played 5 games at 1B in the minors (33 innings) but 2019 was the last time he did. He has pitched more recently than played 1B (2020 for 1 inning). Of course, Espinal could've gone in for defense in RF or 2B (moving Merrifield to RF).

This team is a rubic's cube when it comes to defense. So many options that losing an OF backup shouldn't be a big deal. But really, what is desperately needed is another bat for DH as Belt isn't really showing signs of anything but rigor mortis. Given today's mess from him, I suspect today is another negative in WPA (factors in only offense, since he is a DH/1B that is all that really matters), giving him 6 positive games vs 12 negative games. How long the Jays can keep him around is a tough one. Yeah, $9.5 mil is a lot to toss out, but winning is #1 and he isn't helping. His total WPA is -0.589, meaning he has cost over 1/2 a game to the Jays so far, not counting tonight which didn't help.

So who is a hitter who a losing team might give up? Oakland has Brent Rooker (sill pre-arb, but 28 this year) who is hitting for a 251 OPS+ over 22 games (85 OPS+ before this year) - if he is remotely for real he'd be a nice grab and Oakland is planning for Vegas in 2027 but might go to the minor league park in 2025 (lease ends in Oakland after 2024). Ryan Noda would be sweet but he is a rookie (141 OPS+ LH 1B), but an older one at 27, but he also will be cheap for many years to come and would still be cheap in 2025-2027 (under team control through 2028) - yes, he was part of the Ross Stripling deal years ago. Ramón Laureano is interesting too - a RF/CF with a 120 OPS+ (bats right) so he'd be rotated into the OF and DH with the 3 guys we got out there already. Biggio would then become Vlad's caddie instead of Belt. At $3.5 mil he is one of the more expensive A's (pretty sad eh?), lifetime 114 OPS+. That could fit as he is a free agent after 2025 thus the A's won't want to hold him. A few possibilities from a team that is trying to lose as many as possible this year. None should be too expensive in prospects but could fill in that annoying DH slot allowing Belt to be dumped.

Btw, I don't expect the Jays to dump Belt, and I'd love it if he would prove me wrong for thinking of replacing him. Hopefully today lights a big fire under him and he gets going tomorrow and starts hitting like he did in 2020-2021. He wasn't a horrid risk, but so far he looks like he is done.
John Northey - Monday, May 01 2023 @ 11:25 PM EDT (#428402) #
For the NHL, if the league had its way all the Canadian teams would be out in the first round, or just miss the playoffs altogether.

Round 2: Seattle vs Dallas - League wants Dallas I'd think.
Vegas vs Edmonton - need you ask?
Toronto vs Miami - Miami obviously
Carolina vs NJ - probably NJ but either can be sellable.

I'm cheering on Seattle, Edmonton, Toronto, and a 7 game series with quadruple overtime in the NJ/Caroline series. I am sad the Jets are out already. My daughter is now behind Vegas (she enjoyed their first season finals run and their silly stuff in the stands that we see on TV) and hates the Leafs. I fully expect the Leafs to flop at anytime, in as painful a manner as possible.
scottt - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 06:33 AM EDT (#428403) #
The hook was slow because they had a lot of guys down in the bullpen.
Should be better today on that account.
Bassitt lasted only 5 innings. Also, the pen coughed up a lot of runs on Sunday while throwing a lot of pitches.

Romano lost on 3 pitches and Mayza got through an inning with only 7.

Berrios was throwing a glove side fastball and 2 different change up.
He settled down with that and was actually struggling to throw strikes to the 2 right bats.
A for effort there.

soupman - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 11:42 AM EDT (#428404) #
Belt has looked bad since he showed up in spring (late). I remain hopeful that he just needs some more time to heal, and i hope they can send him to the IL on a conditioning stint. The main reason i think it's worth having some patience is because in 2020-2021 he had a better OPS+ than Vlad. How fun would it be to release him, have a division rival pick him up for free, and then he just turns that back on while the jays foot the bill? i think there's some risk involved in giving up - though, i agree with the general sentiment that there doesn't seem to be a lot of evidence for that concern on the field so far.
hypobole - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 12:48 PM EDT (#428405) #
RIP Gordon Lightfoot
John Northey - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 12:52 PM EDT (#428406) #
Lets be generous and ignore Belt's first 11 games (April 18th) and start with the game he hit a home run in (April 21st). Counting that game and going through yesterday he has hit 174/240/348. Ugh. Before that he was hitting 154/233/231. Skip the HR game and he has hit 105/191/105 since hitting it. I can't see much hope in that. Really, what hope is there in that? Schneider has tried to set him up for maximum benefit - he has only had 8 PA vs LHP so far (0 for 8 with 4 K's). In high leverage PA's he is 0 for 13 with 2 walks. 2 for 14 with RISP. I mean this is very ugly stuff.
Cracka - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 12:59 PM EDT (#428407) #
Two things jump out at me about Belt:
1. He's seeing more strikes than ever - Belt has a great eye at the plate and is used to seeing a lot of pitches and drawing a bunch of walks. But this season, pitchers aren't afraid to challenge him, so he's seeing more strikes than ever and ending up in a lot of bad counts.

2. His batted ball data from FanGraphs is telling: 47% pull (career high) + 34% oppo field (career high) + 19% middle (massive career low). 37% ground ball (career high) + 16% line drive (massive career low). My read: His swing timing is way, way off - either too early on breaking pitches or too late on fastballs - and at 35 years old it might not be fixable.

I think he'll end up on the IL again before they'd consider cutting him. He could go to Dunedin and try to get things sorted out at the complex without the scrutiny of boxscores. But patience is wearing thin. Last night was a pivotal moment when they pinch-hit Kirk for him against an RHP in the 7th inning. If you can't trust Belt in that spot, he's not going to be on the roster much longer.
Nigel - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 02:37 PM EDT (#428409) #
That data matches the eye test. He can’t hit any kind of velocity and cheats from time to time and gets fooled by anything off speed.
John Northey - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 02:58 PM EDT (#428410) #
I've got to be honest, I was happy when the Jays signed Belt - he looked like a guy who could have at least a 'dead cat bounce' after a poor year last year. Cost 'only' cash, no prospects. I'm glad Schneider seems to have decided not to trust him in key situations now, that minimizes the damage he does while on the roster unless his bat comes back to life. Perfect world he finally gets back to his 2020/21 form, more likely is he never gets there and only climbs to a 75-90 OPS+ hitter which might be good enough to not be cut, but hopefully the Jays are looking for a replacement and don't let any illusions stop them.
greenfrog - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 03:22 PM EDT (#428411) #
If Belt truly is toast, the Jays could run with Horwitz (and maybe sometimes Lukes) as the left-handed DH until the trade deadline. At that point the team could add a veteran LH bat if need be. The nice thing about Horwitz is that (like Belt) he can spell Vladdy at first base from time to time.
uglyone - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 03:32 PM EDT (#428412) #
Belt's gonna get much much more than 50pa, guys.

On a different note - while it doesnt mean quite what it used to mean, i was pretty happy today when i checked and realized that the Jays lead the league in IP per start at 5.7. I think that number is still by far the most important number that pretty much never gets mentioned.
John Northey - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 03:55 PM EDT (#428413) #
Excellent points uglyone. Belt has 68 PA so far, safe to say he gets at least another 40 or so before the Jays decide if he is a lost cause but after having Kirk PH for him against a RH pitcher one has to think he won't get a lot more than that. 30 K's in 68 PA is just super-ugly. Only Varsho & Chapman are close to him in K's, while only Berrios and Gausman have struck out more hitters than Belt has K's on his own.

Of course, Belt having so much trouble has helped keep some pressure off of Varsho - also off to a nightmarish start with a 62 OPS+ so far, and Springer at 69. Yet the team OPS+ is 108, ERA+ is 110 (partially thanks to the improved OF defense I'm sure).
92-93 - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#428414) #
Varsho still in the 5 hole with Kirk batting 7th. If they insist on batting him higher to keep separation from Kiermaier, 6th would serve the same purpose.
bpoz - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 06:00 PM EDT (#428415) #
UO is correct that our rotation's IP is very good. This has benefits in some way. Maybe taking pressure off the pen.

Also Pearson is providing value from the pen.
scottt - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 06:44 PM EDT (#428416) #
Belt is making bad decisions on pitches, but the results otherwise aren't terribly different from his career numbers.
He's whiffing at pitches out of the strikezone at a rate that is up by more than 1 percent.
He's taking pitches that are in the zone at a rate that is up by more than 3 percent.
The combined effect is 5% more strikes which  balloons to a huge 44% strikeout rate, about double his career numbers.

The next two stops will be NL parks which will be familiar ground for him.
Hopefully that helps. If not, they'll have to try something.

92-93 - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 08:33 PM EDT (#428418) #
Or maybe he should bat 5th. Good call by Siddall right before the bomb.
Gerry - Tuesday, May 02 2023 @ 10:46 PM EDT (#428419) #
Depressing game tonight.

Kikuchi bad.
Pop bad.
Svanson bad
Springer bad.
zeppelinkm - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 11:43 AM EDT (#428423) #
Schneider really needs to shake up the lineup. Springer getting the most at-bats while he's scuffling like this is just so deflating. Bo should be leading off, or flip Merrifield and Springer until Georgie gets himself sorted out.

As an aside, Springer's April average exit velocity was the lowest of his career. I hope this isn't the beginning of a steep decline for him, and more that he's still rebuilding the strength in his arm/elbow and that he's not all the way back yet.

I know lineup construction generally speaking doesn't mean much but George shouldn't be the guy getting the most at-bats every game he starts until he figures something out.
lexomatic - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 12:06 PM EDT (#428425) #
Looks like the new old catcher is top 10 in the statscast catcher throwing stat over the past 2 years (Moreno grades high, Kirk & Jansen both sliiiiiiightly above average.
Mike Green - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 12:29 PM EDT (#428426) #
Springer's xwOBA is 5th on the club behind Chapman, VGJ, Bichette and (slightly) Kirk. It's league average, and he has been unlucky. On the other hand, he did look bad yesterday on a day when he was returning from illness.
John Northey - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 02:24 PM EDT (#428427) #
That is interesting lexomatic. Moreno #3, Yan Gomes #6 (long ago Jay), Heineman #10 (in AAA right now), Jansen #25, Kirk #29 out of 63. I'm sure other ex-Jays are on there too.

As many said last winter all 3 the Jays had at the end of last season were very solid catchers. The only question was which to keep and which to trade. As a contending team it made sense to trade the kid with the least experience in the majors. Gabby has a 78 wRC+ so far this year to go with 'wow' defense resulting in a 0.3 fWAR. Jansen has a 72 wRC+, 0.2 fWAR while Kirk is at 119 wRC+ and 0.5 fWAR. All 3 still very valuable to a team. Interestingly Kirk as a DH has a 597 OPS so far this year vs Jansen's 1.333. Still, no question catcher is not an issue this year. The issue is the OF where Varsho & Springer aren't hitting and DH with Belt hitting like he is using his belt instead of a bat.
uglyone - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 02:50 PM EDT (#428428) #
yeah i'm with zep - 125pa for Springer is not a tiny sample anymore. a shakeup isn't that big a deal.

and in order not to put any more pressure on other guys, I would just bump everyone up a slot for now.

* 1. Bichette
* 2. Guerrero
* 3. Chapman
* 4. Kirk
* 5. Springer
* 6. Varsho
* 7. Merrifield
* 8. Belt/Jansen
* 9. Kiermaeir
uglyone - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 03:02 PM EDT (#428429) #
and if you need a bigger sample to feel comfortable with that kind of move....

Past 1 Calendar Year

* SS Bichette 732pa, 145wrc+, 6.1war, 5.4war/650
* 1B Guerrero 751pa, 134wrc+, 3.2war, 2.8war/650
* 3B Chapman 654pa, 137wrc+, 5.7war, 5.7war/650
* DH/C Kirk 560pa, 135wrc+, 4.3war, 5.0war/650
* RF Springer 615pa, 114wrc+, 2.8war, 3.0war/650
* LF Varsho 627pa, 102wrc+, 4.3war, 4.5war/650
* 2B Merrifield 555pa, 105wrc+, 2.7war, 3.2war/650
* C/DH Jansen 310pa, 116wrc+, 2.4war, 4.9war/650
* CF Kiermaier 253pa, 96wrc+, 1.5war, 3.9war/650

* UT Biggio 328pa, 94wrc+, 1.4war, 2.8war/650
* UT Espinal 458pa, 92wrc+, 1.7war, 2.4war/650
* OF Luplow 230pa, 80wrc+, 0.3war, 0.9war/650
* DH Belt 287pa, 72wrc+, -0.9war, -2.0war/650
* C Heineman 176pa, 49wrc+, 0.4war, 1.5war/650
92-93 - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 04:46 PM EDT (#428430) #
At least they aren't shoehorning Belt into the lineup just because they gave him 9MM. He sits today so Chapman can get a half day at DH.

I'm all for going with Bichette/Guerrero 1-2, but not necessarily because Springer is slumping. You should always give your best hitters the most at-bats. It was suggested last season that Vladdy doesn't like batting 2nd, though.
Chuck - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 05:20 PM EDT (#428431) #
Springer's early struggles are reminiscent of Bichette's last year, which resulted in Bichette being lowered in the order until he started hitting again (and perhaps with a motivational impetus to be more disciplined). I wonder if such a move might be more difficult to do with a veteran on a big contract than with a young player. Springer would presumably need to buy in and the organization would certainly not want to embarrass him.

Guerrero's last two seasons must have had upper management wondering who he really was as a player, a 6-7 WAR player, a 3-4 WAR player, or, more likely, someone in between. I wonder if this isn't the year upon which a long-term contract offer will be based, if one is to come at all. And if Guerrero is really a 5ish WAR player, no slouch certainly, what would a contract look like? Given his size, he's likely not going to age well. That said, Miguel Cabrera, a good comp I think, did not fall off a cliff until 34. A contract running Guerrero out to age 40 would probably be a very bad idea, as it was for Cabrera.

92-93 - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 05:28 PM EDT (#428432) #
Devers at 10/313MM should be the template, and his deal takes him through his age-36 season. Vladdy stands to make around 45MM in '24-25, so call it a 12/360 and get er done.
Nigel - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 05:34 PM EDT (#428433) #
I'm skeptical that Vladdy or Bo have any interest in negotiating long term deals, but Chuck's point about the ultimate offensive profile of Vladdy is fair if that really is a possibility. The Dunedin/Buffalo sojourn's definitely distorted Vladdy's (and others) numbers.
greenfrog - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 05:41 PM EDT (#428434) #
Wondering if Springer’s head injury in the postseason is affecting his play this season. Baseball is a fast-paced, precision game. The head trauma might be throwing him off just enough to mess with his performance.
92-93 - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 05:43 PM EDT (#428435) #
My impression of Vladdy's interview with Hazel was that he has wanted to get a deal done, but the offers haven't been high enough.

You can parse his words here at 3:12:
vw_fan17 - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 05:44 PM EDT (#428436) #
Re: the NHL comments.

As a Leafs fan, I'm downright elated the Jets are out. After their gooning it up and then proclaiming "beating the Leafs is our Stanley Cup", well, they already have their Cup. So go eat dirt. And that's the sanitized version :-)

Also not crazy about the Oilers fans who remind me of the SNL Ditka fanatics skits, but, well, they're not as bad as the Jets, in my book.. 

I agree, the League in general doesn't want Canadian teams to win, so if the Leafs can take out both Florida teams (where Bettman lives, IIRC), good on 'em.
vw_fan17 - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 05:50 PM EDT (#428437) #
Back to baseball..

I agree - Belt is hurting the team right now. Should have sprung for more predictable / reliable DH bat in the off-season. Here's hoping he either turns it around pronto, or we cut bait pronto.

A little deflating, coming back 2 days in a row to tie / take the lead, only to give it right back with the pen unable to hold the Sox. I mean, they are hitting well. Here's hoping we can salvage one game from this series..

Still hard to believe we'd be in first / tied for first in either of the other divisions, but clearly in 3rd place in the AL Beast..
Eephus - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 08:42 PM EDT (#428441) #
Missed the Vladdy dinger, tuned in just time for the rare third-home balk.

And it totally was a balk.
Gerry - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 08:49 PM EDT (#428442) #
Three error night...sloppy baseball.
Gerry - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 09:00 PM EDT (#428443) #
Manoah, Berrios and Kikuchi are very unpredictable this season, you never know what you are going to get.
Eephus - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 09:09 PM EDT (#428444) #
I hate it when the Red Sox just Red Sox you…. especially in those hideous red unis with the black numbers (seriously???? You have one of the objectively prettiest and classic home whites in all of professional sports and you wear these awful things??? Why I…. oh sorry, they’re telling me there’s a truck outside to pick me up. That happens sometimes.)
92-93 - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 09:09 PM EDT (#428445) #
Manoah battled well tonight for a guy who got drilled by a comebacker and had his team (including himself) make a few mistakes behind him. Espinal needs to clean it up defensively.
Eephus - Wednesday, May 03 2023 @ 09:23 PM EDT (#428446) #
….. oh I can continue so If the numbers were white? I’d be okay with it. Black numbers on a deep red shirt? It’s bad enough your team is unpleasant to deal with already….

When Cimber is healthy, this has to be the end of Bass right? Regardless of how unlikeable he is (clearly very, very)… is there any situation you’d trust him to face three guys? Didn’t work Sunday.
Leaside Cowboy - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 10:29 AM EDT (#428448) #
Black numbers on a deep red shirt?

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) features the destruction of Fenway Park.

Tears of joy.

Leaside Cowboy - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 11:03 AM EDT (#428449) #
Tonight's game is scheduled for 6:10 PM eastern time.
99BlueJaysWay - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 12:20 PM EDT (#428451) #
Eephus, I think Pop with his option would be the first person to go down. I think they’ll try to give Bass more time to get sorted and only cut him when they’ve completely lost hope.
John Northey - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 12:33 PM EDT (#428452) #
BR has the Jays at 83.5% to make postseason, 4.8% to win World Series. 18-13 record even with this painful losing streak. A touch behind the pace of 1985 when they won 99 (20-11), and 1992 (21-10), but ahead of 1993 & 2015 (16-15 in both cases), and 2022 (17-14).

Always good to look at the past to avoid any 'oh crap' feelings. Of course, far ahead of the 1989 team that won the division (11-20 at this point, then went 1-4 before firing the manager).

Varsho up to an 87 for OPS+ now, but Springer down to 57, Belt 43, Biggio 26, Espinal 50. Clearly room for improvement on the offensive side there. Pearson I think should be fine in the 2 inning role he has now, thus Pop is looking at AAA time when Cimber comes back with Bass on the short list of who to cut whenever the Jays get a new reliever in or Green is ready.
Chuck - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 02:26 PM EDT (#428453) #
There has been some discussion here (though not in the media that I could see) arguing for Heineman being the team's third catcher, freeing up Jansen and Kirk to hit more. A counter-argument has been that Varsho could serve as an emergency catcher. That got me wondering if players who got moved off catcher ever returned, even in a pinch.
  • Dale Murphy: after age 23 never returned
  • Cliff Johnson: after age 28 caught in 43 more games
  • BJ Surhoff: after age 27 caught in 33 more games
  • Brian Downing: after age 28 caught in 53 more games
  • Mike Sweeney: after age 24 caught in 4 more games
  • Craig Biggio: after age 25 caught 2 more innings at age 41 in his penultimate career game

In my thick skull, I would have put forth the proposition that Surhoff and Downing never caught again, but I would have been wrong. Perhaps this means a never-say-never attitude is most apt where Varsho is concerned. He will likely never start at catcher ever again, but he's probably good for an emergency inning or two at some point down the line.

Magpie - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 04:16 PM EDT (#428454) #
And Carlos Delgado of course. He had never played even one inning anywhere except catcher when the Jays stuck him in LF to begin the '94 season. That didn't work, he went back to Syracuse, turned 22 and finished the year behind the dish. But he never caught another inning the rest of his career.
Mike Green - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 04:57 PM EDT (#428456) #
Further back, Jimmie Foxx did catch some innings from age 27 after moving out from behind the plate to first base at age 20- 212 innings at age 27, 4 innings at age 29, 368 innings at age 32, 4 innings at age 34 and 5 innings at age 36. 
Chuck - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 04:59 PM EDT (#428457) #
Ted Simmons is another one I would have been wrong about, thinking he had left the position for good. After moving from catcher after age 33 he still caught in 50 more games.
Cracka - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 05:01 PM EDT (#428458) #
Josh Donaldson is another example - demoted by the A's after a bad game at Catcher in June 2012 - and has never caught another inning.
Mike Green - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 05:04 PM EDT (#428459) #
In my thick skull, I would have put forth the proposition that Surhoff and Downing never caught again, but I would have been wrong. Perhaps this means a never-say-never attitude is most apt where Varsho is concerned. He will likely never start at catcher ever again, but he's probably good for an emergency inning or two at some point down the line.

...and probably better in the role than Cliff Johnson!
Chuck - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 05:29 PM EDT (#428462) #
...and probably better in the role than Cliff Johnson!

Who is the most recent analog to Cliff Johnson, a bat so big you felt you could "hide" him at catcher? Some might suggest Mike Piazza, but I'm not sure I accept that. Catcher was his primary position every year except for ages 35 and 38 and he ranks 22nd all-time in games caught. No sign of Heathcliff anywhere on that list!

Maybe catchers as ill-suited as Johnson are now a thing of the past.

Nigel - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 05:39 PM EDT (#428463) #
I would have said Mike Napoli was the closest modern comp to Cliff Johnson that I can think of. Even there, the Rangers ultimately gave up on Napoli behind the dish mid career.
Leaside Cowboy - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 05:45 PM EDT (#428464) #
Joey Votto was drafted as a catcher in 2002 and played the position for 7 games in rookie ball.
Leaside Cowboy - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 06:26 PM EDT (#428465) #
Cliff Johnson was a bully to Dámaso García. Poor little Dámo, the jersey-burning was a cry for help.
Nigel - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 06:28 PM EDT (#428466) #
Two things that seemed impossible at the beginning of the year but that are now at least possible (if unlikely) - the Jays are the fifth best team in the AL and the fifth best team in the AL East.
Magpie - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 07:06 PM EDT (#428467) #
Who is the most recent analog to Cliff Johnson, a bat so big you felt you could "hide" him at catcher?

There was a guy who immediately came to mind, but I couldn't think of the name....

It was Earl Williams, who actually came up around the same time as Heathcliff, so not exactly the right answer.

I think you're right, organizations don't try to squeeze a guy who simply can't play the position into the lineup anymore. I'm sure it wouldn't take a modern franchise 900 games to notice that while Joe Torre may have been a helluva player, he was a pretty lousy catcher (1965 Gold Glove notwithstanding. Somebody really needs to explain that one, by the way.)
Gerry - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 07:10 PM EDT (#428468) #
The Jays focus on the details in spring training seems to have disappeared. In Boston the fielding has been sloppy, the pitching poor and the hitting so-so. The Red Sox are probably just in a hot streak but they are making the Jays look like also-rans.
Chuck - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 07:43 PM EDT (#428470) #
These Red Sox are the unMariners, not flailing away at every damn pitch.
Magpie - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 09:05 PM EDT (#428471) #
I think Pop with his option would be the first person to go down.

I would think that Pop posting an ERA of 15.19 over his last half-dozen outings, allowing 3 HR and 10 Runs in 5.1 IP, pretty much guarantees that Bass will live to pitch another day.

Why can't we have nice things, anyway? Is there a rule?
Gerry - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 09:57 PM EDT (#428473) #
Pop's injured hamstring probably saved him around $100,000. If we assume he would have been demoted if not for the injury, his pay would have been cut dramatically. As it is he will spend 10 days to two weeks on the IL and then likely a rehab assignment. Call it a month of major league pay versus AAA pay.
Gerry - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 10:02 PM EDT (#428474) #
Jay Jackson is the most likely Pop replacement, assuming Cimber isn't ready. Thomas Hatch and Trent Thornton are other options but neither has been dominant in AAA. Hayden Juenger, Yosver Zulueta and Zach Thompson all pitched multiple innings today.
grjas - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 10:46 PM EDT (#428475) #
Not the best week to be a Toronto sport fan. Wee bit different than last week.
John Northey - Thursday, May 04 2023 @ 11:10 PM EDT (#428476) #
Good question on who comes up. Gotta figure the Jays will put Pop on the IL just so they can have a fresh arm for tomorrow. Listed are ERA - last game date - innings last game. 40 man guys are Hagen Danner (3.00 May 3rd 1 IP but just 3 IP overall), Thomas Hatch (5.06 May 2nd 1 2/3), Jay Jackson (5.91 May 2nd 1 1/3), Zach Thompson (7.77 May 4th 3 1/3), Trent Thornton (3.86 May 4 1 2/3), and Yosver Zulueta (5.54 May 4th 3). Ick. Thornton would've been the most likely but he pitched tonight so I doubt it. Danner would be tempting if he had more than 3 IP this year and was in AAA instead of AA.

Given that stuff Jackson or Hatch are my bets due to the rest they've had. Jackson being the #1 choice due to his ML experience and Hatch not being that good lately (2022 or 2023). Jackson was solid in AAA last year and in his brief time in the majors (1 1/3 IP 1 H 1 K). Both have thrown multiple innings in a relief game this year and neither has a reason for the Jays to fear losing if sent back down (can't see anyone grabbing them off waivers). No one jumps out at me among the non-40 man guys as being worth knocking off a 40 man guy at this point. We'll see what happens. Safe to say Pearson is going to have an extended shot though.
Leaside Cowboy - Friday, May 05 2023 @ 10:56 AM EDT (#428480) #
Cuttlefish to Yusei Kikuchi (Jedi Knight) for plunking Verdugo.
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