Tag Archives: Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays Turn to Randy Wolf for Pitching Help

Randy Wolf signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays today and I’m very happy for him. Not because he’s going to do much to help the Blue Jays this season or he’s prepared to reach a new milestone. My elation is because Wolf is one of the most genuine players I have ever met.

As an admitted fan of the Philadelphia Phillies, I encountered Wolf lots of the years from the days he was with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons until his final days with the Phillies.

Wolf, along with Doug Glanville and Mike Lieberthal, was one of the guys the Phillies had who always signed autographs. This isn’t even an exaggeration. Dozens of times I saw Wolf arrive at Veterans Stadium and willingly sign autographs for fans before the game.

Something else I always loved about Wolf, besides adding to my autograph collection, was his ability to relate to the fans. I remember one autograph collector telling Wolf he had him on his fantasy baseball team. Jokingly, Wolf apologized to the fan.

By Wknight94 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Wknight94 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
It’s hard to believe Wolf last pitched for the Phillies 9 years ago in 2006. He was one of many Phillies from a poor era of Philadelphia baseball who left right before things turned around.

Although he’s best known for his days with the Phillies, Wolf also had some good years with the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers later on. A sign of his consistency, his career ERA with Philadelphia is 4.21. This also happens to be his career ERA with all teams so the way I see it, he never really lost his touch after departing the City of Brotherly Love.

Wolf signing with the Blue Jays is a move to make up for the loss of Marcus Stroman. It also means the free agency market for starting pitchers is completely dry. I’m doubtful much will come of it, but for all of the positive memories I have of Wolf pitching for a losing baseball team in red pinstripes and how much respect he always showed for the fans,

Fantasy Baseball Take on Marcus Stroman

Marcus Stroman was hurt today and will miss the entire 2015 MLB season. Before he was hurt, I wrote this. Needless to say, I’m very upset.

Marcus Stroman debuted in 2014 for the Toronto Blue Jays with some very mixed results. Ultimately he finished the season 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA. Stroman allowed only 7 home runs in 130.2 innings and for anyone who had him on their fantasy baseball team, may have helped secure a playoff berth.

The frustration for Stroman last season was the inconsistency. For example, in 4 of his 5 starts in July he pitched 7 innings. In those 4 starts, he gave up only 1 earned run. In the other July start he made Stroman lasted only 3.2 innings and allowed 5 runs. We can expect this from most pitchers, but in a fantasy baseball league where you are limited in starts it can get frustrating quickly to not know which Stroman you’re getting.

Another similar instance occurred in August. Stroman a 9 inning no-decision against the Detroit Tigers where he gave up only 2 runs. Doing this against the dangerous Tigers’ lineup, fantasy owners gained some extra faith in him. His next start came against the Chicago White Sox. Stroman lasted just 0.2 innings and allowed 5 runs on 5 hits.

One pattern I do notice with Stroman is he seems to be much better at home than on the road. At home he was 7-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 11 starts. Stroman had 9 starts on the road and the result was a 4-4 record with a 5.60 ERA. His WHIP was also a very impressive 0.94 at home compared to 1.60 on the road.

So the logic with Stroman appears pretty simple. Pick him, but only start him at home. Keep an eye on him though and see if this changes. He’s a young pitcher and we can make a million silly assumptions as to why he struggled on the road in 2014.

Thank me in August when you use Stroman perfectly all season long because you knew when to start him and when to keep him on the bench.

2015 MLB Prediction: The American League East Disappoints Us All

Throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, the American League East was one of the best divisions in baseball. This was in part thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays in the early part of the 1990s, the New York Yankees in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and the Boston Red Sox in the 2000s up through 2013.

The other two teams in the division, the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, also had competitive seasons including a World Series appearance by the latter in 2008.

In 2015, the Red Sox enter the season with a revamped offense and completely new pitching staff. The Blue Jays have added Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin while the Orioles are the defending division champions and still rather dangerous.

Overall, it’s still a strong division on paper. However, I’m predicting in 2015 this once dominant division falters and disappoints us all.

I’m not buying the Red Sox. If Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was the one who cooked up all of their transactions, I’m smelling some bad news. There’s no true ace and several of their starting pitchers had bad seasons last year. Just because they’re in a new city that has won in recent years doesn’t mean they’ll bounce back.

The Orioles are also a major concern for me. Matt Wieters and Manny Machado will return from injury and there’s really no telling at what percent and when they actually will be back in the lineup. The loss of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis without any significant replacement is also troubling.


Then there’s the Blue Jays. I’m rooting really hard for them. I love the offense they have, but the pitching staff still seems to lack something. R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle are old enough to die of natural causes. I’m not sure that even with their potent offense we’ll see the Blue Jays in the postseason, who by the way are the only team since 2000 absent from playoff baseball.

Finally I’ll lump the Yankees and Rays in together because I don’t see either having a particularly good year and for completely opposite reasons. The Yankees are old, getting older, and make Dickey and Buehrle look like toddlers. As for the Rays, their experience makes a virgin seem confident in bed.

By james_in_to on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By james_in_to on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
In the end, though, the division may remain competitive and not in a particularly good way. Maybe, they’ll battle for the playoff spot with one of the lowest win totals. The best pitcher in the entire division is probably Masahiro Tanaka and even he is a bit of a mystery.

For the first time in a while, I see the American League East placed firmly near the front door and given the job of “mat” for the rest of the league.

Toronto Blue Jays Want Natural Grass

When we Americans think of Canada, beautiful lush green well-trimmed grass isn’t one of the first 5,000 things that comes to mind. Instead we think of a frozen tundra where plant life goes to die.

The last remaining Major League Baseball team in Canada, the Toronto Blue Jays, may be changing our opinion on the ground of their country.

Certainly Canada is capable of supporting grass. It’s not Antarctica or my ex-girlfriend’s mother’s heart. It’s cold, but it’s not so cold grass can’t grow.

By 2018, the Blue Jays are hopeful they can change the Rogers Centre to support natural grass instead of the painful artificial kind they’ve always played on. The decision will save a lot of knees, hips, and other joints on players whose bodies have been damaged from playing on green concrete.

By Jamez42 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jamez42 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
If you traveled back in time 40 years, your opinion on fake grass might be a little different. It was innovative then. It required less maintenance and for people like me who are allergic to freshly cut grass, we rejoiced!

Commonly known as Astroturf in honor of the Houston Astros who first used it, artificial grass is a villain to many athletes. Football players absolutely seem to hate it since half of their Sunday is spent getting dropped on it. Baseball players also have their troubles. Former Blue Jay Brett Lawrie complained about the field’s surface and blamed it for several of his injuries even though some happened away from Rogers Centre.

The change from artificial grass to the desire for the real kind says a lot about how far technology has come yet how much we shouldn’t fix what ain’t broke. The benefits of Astroturf are far fewer than the comforts of playing on something more natural. Anyone who was ever forced to field a sharply hit groundball in Toronto can attest to it.

Toronto Blue Jays’ Prospect Daniel Norris Lives in a Van

Inspiration? Heartwarming? Weird? I’ll go with the last one.

Apparently Toronto Blue Jays’ pitching prospect Daniel Norris pays rent in the form of car insurance and feeding the meter with quarters. Norris has been living out of his van this winter.

The 21-year-old has chosen an “Into the Wild” type lifestyle because he enjoys activities such as surfing, hiking, and not having any room to hang a painting on his wall. I’m not exactly sure why he couldn’t have just, you know, rented a place and ventured outside whenever he wanted to.

Obviously, the Blue Jays are a little uncomfortable with Norris’ unique lifestyle. They can’t really do anything about it though and since it’s not hurting anyone at the moment they just seem like the bad guys if they forced him to change.

I’m a homebody so I could never experience life on the road living out of a van like Norris. It’s a nice thought, but not one many people can handle – myself included.

Chances are Norris is just a young kid having some fun. Eventually, when the big league money begins pouring into his bank account, that van will be upgraded to an ocean-side second home. Until then he should put the quirkiness aside and put baseball ahead of everything else.

Five Statistical Facts about Jose Bautista

If the city of Toronto ever needed a spokesperson for why you should visit they should hire Jose Bautista for the job. When he arrived with the Toronto Blue Jays, suddenly, he was a premiere power hitter and MVP candidate. The five major league seasons beforehand were only September call-ups or irrelevant. One of my favorite players on an active roster and maybe of all-time, these are five statistical facts about the baseball player so popular in Canada that he always appears on the nation’s video game covers, Joey Bats.

Home Runs

First thing’s first, let’s get to the home runs. Bautista hit 54 home runs in 2010 out of nowhere. This literally obliterated his previous season high of 16 from 2006 when he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The next year he led the league again with 43. Bautista has continued to show off his power even in seasons since where he missed time due to injury. Since 2010, he has hit 187 of his 246 career home runs.

On-Base Percentage

Something overlooked about Bautista is his on-base percentage. His career OBP is .367, but two recent seasons standout. Last year in 2014 his OBP was .403. In 2011, the first season where we knew to expect lots of power, his OBP was an incredible .447. Thanks to his league leading 132 walks, Bautista was able to get on base at a Stan Musial level.

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Jose Bautista") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “Jose Bautista”) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Teams Who Gave Up On Him

Four teams can be considered as ones who gave up on Bautista a little too quickly. Oddly, it all happened in the same season as Bautista officially became a nomad in 2004. He started out with the Baltimore Orioles after being selected in the Rule 5 Draft from the Pittsburgh Pirates, was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, purchased by the Kansas City Royals, traded by the Royals to the New York Mets, and then traded by the Mets to the Pirates. The trade from the Royals to the Mets then to the Pirates all occurred on July 30, 2004. Shame on you Pirates, Orioles, Devil Rays, Royals, Mets, and Pirates again!

Avoiding Double Plays

One thing you can excuse from a power hitter like Bautista is the amount of double plays they hit into. Fortunately Bautista doesn’t hit into too many anymore. Since becoming the player he is today, the most he has hit into is 18 which he did in 2014. In his two best seasons, 2010 and 2011, he only hit into a combined 18 double plays.

Punishing Division Rivals

Several pitchers from American League East Division rivals have some bad numbers against Bautista. Although Jon Lester has given up 5 home runs, he has held Bautista to only a .230 batting average. For the rest though, they haven’t been so lucky. David Price has also allowed 5 home runs and a .319 batting average against him. James Shields, who spent a lot of time with the Devil Rays with Price, gave up as many home runs with a .323 batting average against. Then there’s the retired Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees who allowed 3 home runs and a .323 batting average. The man to suffer the most punishment from Bautista is Kevin Slowey who pitched for the Minnesota Twins. Bautista is 5 for 8 against him with 4 home runs and a .625 batting average.

Are the Los Angeles Dodgers Interested in Dioner Navarro?

I haven’t heard any rumors about it, but I think this could be the perfect trade.

First the brief background–the Los Angeles Dodgers have too many outfielders!

Specifically they have Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Yasiel Puig. They also have a few younger players like Joc Pederson in the minor leagues so the necessary action to take is to trade one of them away; unless baseball decides to play by softball rules and allow four outfielders.

This winter has been busy in trying to solve the surplus outfielder problem. I read one deal involved sending Ethier and catcher Tim Federowicz to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Miguel Montero. The trade fell through which got me thinking about the Dodgers’ need for a catcher.

Not since Mike Piazza have the Dodgers had a team built around the catcher. Russell Martin‘s stint with them was memorable, however, he’s no longer available because he just signed a big contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. This got me thinking, who did Martin replace?

In 2014 the Blue Jays had Dioner Navarro as their starting catcher. In 139 games he hit .271 with 12 home runs and 69 RBIs. Compared to what the Dodgers had last year this is worth trading anything for.

By Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The 2014 Dodgers got a .191 batting average from A.J. Ellis, .188 from Drew Butera, and .113 from Federowicz–the guy they tried sending to Arizona.

Navarro only has one more year on his contract and it’s a cheap $5 million he’s making. If the Dodgers are unable to find a long-term solution at the position, he could be someone to seriously consider. Maybe, they could even get someone else in return depending on which of their outfielders they send to Toronto. The Blue Jays are definitely interested in competing in 2015 and with the loss of Melky Cabrera another outfielder could help significantly.

A War of Words about Brett Lawrie

Infielder Brett Lawrie was one of the main pieces in the trade that sent Oakland Athletics’ star third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays. On his way out, Lawrie blamed the turf in Toronto for his inability to stay healthy during his time there.

I find this foolish for about a million reasons. The first, as I have since learned, is he injured himself at Yankee Stadium when diving into the stands. What does the turf at home have to do with getting hurt on the road on a play that would have injured many guys?

Another thing I find important about this is how nobody else on the Blue Jays appears as fragile as Lawrie. The stadium has been around for years and if the turf was really that dangerous the Blue Jays would never have good teams and everyone would only log 100 games a season at the most. I have no doubt the turf does hurt knees, ankles, and other joints. The fact remains, where is everyone else suffering the same fate?

The worst thing about this all is how Lawrie mentions this on his way out of Toronto. I equate this to breaking up with someone then after it’s over you insult them and bring up to everyone how miserable you were in the relationship.

By Keith Allison (Flickr: Brett  Lawrie) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison (Flickr: Brett Lawrie) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
On a Facebook post of the Yahoo article mentioning this story, I had a brief war of words with others on the topic of Lawrie being a whiny wimp. Much of what I already mentioned is covered here.

Me: What about everyone else who played there over the years

Not Me #1: That’s like expecting all smokers to get cancer…

Me: Not quite. It just seems odd that he’s the only one using this excuse when if this was the cause of his frailty. And it’s very respectable for him to wait until he’s on his way out

Not Me #2Players have complained about injuries due to turf since the invention of turf.

Me: Complaining is one thing. Blame is another.

I’m pretty sure I won this argument at the very least because I got the last word in.