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Tim Johnson Jersey

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Today it was announced that former Toronto Blue Jays manager Tim Johnson has signed on to manage the Algodoneros de San Luis of the Northern League of Mexico. The Algodoneros (Cottonmen) are based in San Luis Rio Colorado in the baseball hotbed province of Sonora, Mexico.

Tim Johnson Toronto Blue Jays Jersey

The Northern League of Mexico is, technically speaking, one level below the MiLB-affiliated Mexican League. While the Mexican League is rated as triple-A level baseball, the Northern League is considerably less than that. The Algodoneros are a farm club that develops prospects for two Mexican League teams: the Acereros de Monclova and Pericos de Puebla. Both teams are owned by the same corporate entity, the Baseball Grupo Industrial Monclova.

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A native of North Dakota, Tim Johnson made his Major League debut as an infielder for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1973. His six-year Major League career ended with a 43-game stint with Toronto in 1979. The 67-year old Johnson last managed at the Major League level in 1998, when he guided the Toronto Blue Jays to a 88-74-1 record. At the conclusion of the season, Johnson was fired for pretending to be a veteran of the Vietnam War. This was a lie he had told his players as a member of the Boston Red Sox coaching staff in 1995:

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Former Red Sox star Mike Greenwell remembers Johnson doing anything he could to pump up the players. He’d tell them that life was tough in the trenches and he ought to know, because he’d been to ‘Nam. It fired the players up. In the beginning, there were no specifics.

“I’ve heard the stories,” Greenwell says. “To me, he was telling me you can survive, you’ve got to be tougher. It’s so easy to go a little bit too far.”

With Cito gone and the legendary (at least in his own mind) Tim Johnson in as manager for the 1998 season Shawn (as well as Delgado and Stewart) was given a full time role. And boy did he show he deserved it, he hit .278/.334/.510 with 100 RBI, 106 runs, 35 homers and 35 steals, becoming the Blue Jays first ever 30/30 man. As well as hitting amazingly, Green played great outfield, including 31 games in center. He came in 4th in the AL with 14 outfield assists.

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In 1999 Green had one of the best seasons ever by a Blue Jay, hitting .309/.384/.588, with 45 doubles, 42 homers, 134 runs, 123 RBI and 20 steals. He was 9th in the AL MVP voting, won a Silver Slugger award and a Gold Glove. He finished 2nd in the AL in runs, 1st in doubles and total bases, 5th in home runs and 6th in RBI. He set Jay franchise records in extra base hits and runs scored and set a team record with a 28 game hitting streak. His season would have been even better had he not been hit by an Andy Pettitte pitch that fractured a bone in his wrist. That cost him a handful of starts and after returning from the injury it took a few games to get hitting with power again.

After the season the Jays announced that Cito Gaston would be coming back as a hitting coach for the 2000 season. Green wasn’t thrilled, as they hadn’t gotten along before, and he decided to ask to be traded closer to his home in California. Our brilliant GM, Gord Ash traded him with Jorge Nunez to the Dodgers for Raul Mondesi and Pedro Borbon. Mondesi wasn’t a bad player but he didn’t have the work ethic to become the star we hoped he would. He had two decent seasons for us, and then in the middle of his third season, when he was batting a big .224, we got incredibly lucky when the Yankees took him off our hands for us, without us having to pay the rest of his salary.

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When Johnson was hired by the Blue Jays in 1998, he kept up the Vietnam veteran ruse. In an attempt to motivate pitcher Pat Hentgen during a road trip to Boston, Johnson told a story about killing two children because they were in the line of fire. With pitching coach Mel Queen within earshot, Johnson drove home his point that there were harder things in life than pitching. Months later, his story would unravel. A confluence of events led to Johnson’s downfall:

There was already animosity in the clubhouse; Queen and Johnson had a very public feud. That was the scene as Johnson’s birthday approached.

Johnson’s wife bought him a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Roger Clemens, a good friend of Johnson’s and a former Blue Jays pitcher, wanted to get his buddy a meaningful present. Clemens’ brother was a Vietnam vet and owned a motorcycle helmet with the logo of his combat unit on it.

Clemens wanted to do the same for his friend.

So he started doing some checking. He didn’t have much luck. Then he called Johnson’s wife and asked her. According to friends in Clay Center, she told Clemens that Timmy didn’t go to Vietnam. It wasn’t intentional; she just didn’t know; the lie was that quiet in the Johnson home.

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Enemies of Johnson found out, and the wheels came off.

“It was a thing to try to motivate,” he says, “and it didn’t work.”

Johnson denied it at first, finally coming clean and apologizing. But it wasn’t that easy. He hung on for the rest of the year, but friends of Johnson say the situation was handled poorly by the team. Johnson was finally fired two weeks into spring training in 1999.

“I resisted that because I was hopeful that people would give him a second chance, and he was remorseful,” then-GM Gord Ash says. “It didn’t seem like anybody wanted to give it to him. The players weren’t accepting. The media weren’t accepting. It wasn’t going to work.”

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Ed Sprague, the Blue Jays’ third baseman, was quoted as calling Johnson a ”liar” and a ”back stabber.”

Tim Johnson Roger Clemens
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The Toronto Star’s Richard Grifin makes a compelling case for forgiveness in this article from 2007. Griffin references a book called Stolen Valor, which details a large social problem in which many soldiers lied about service in Vietnam. Tim Johnson’s case is far from unique. Humans are complex creatures; only Johnson can know for sure why he lied about his tour in Vietnam, though guilt likely played a leading role.

“I got to Milwaukee at the end of spring training (in ’73),” Johnson recalled of his rookie ML season with the Brewers. “I had the phone number of one of my guys. I called and a woman answered. When I asked for him there was a long pause and she said, `Is this a joke? He died in Vietnam.’”

In this context, where exactly in the big picture of sporting scandals should Johnson’s Vietnam lie rank, remembering that he used the stories mostly in ill-advisedly trying to motivate players and not as a part of day-to-day existence?

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Personally, I doubt that Tim Johnson will ever manage a Major League-affiliated ball club ever again. Managers and coaches at baseball’s highest level need to have the trust of their players in order to have an effective working relationship. As Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” But in Mexico, focused on player development, Johnson is equipped with all the tools to succeed. The Spanish-speaking Johnson already has prior experience managing in Mexico; following his dismissal from the Blue Jays, Johnson managed the storied Mexico City Red Devils team (Mexico’s version of the New York Yankees) in the triple-A Mexican League. In addition, he’s managed four different teams in the Mexican Pacific League, an off-season winter league situated on Mexico’s west coast. He last managed in Mexico in 2005 as a member of the Mexicali Aguilas. Among Mexican baseball fans, he’s beloved.

Johnson’s role will be to develop San Luis’s players into Mexican League players, and eventually Major League players. The Algodoneros of San Luis Rio Colorado are looking to improve on 2016’s second-place finish. Under the tutelage of Tim Johnson, I hope that they do.

John Mayberry Jersey

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John Claiborn Mayberry, born February 18, 1949 in Detroit, was a slugging first baseman with a soft glove and a dignified name. John attended Northwestern High School in Detroit, which also produced sluggers Willie Horton and Alex Johnson. That’s 61 WAR from one high school, impressive. While at Northwestern High, John was a three-sport standout, starring in football, basketball and baseball. Twice he was named an All-State basketball player in Michigan, but baseball was his true love, and stories of his prodigious home runs drew dozens of scouts to his high school games.

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The Astros drafted John with the sixth-overall pick in the first round of the 1967 amateur draft. The 1967 draft was loaded, producing Jon Matlack, Ted Simmons, Bobby Grich, Vida Blue, Dave Kingman, Don Baylor, Ralph Garr, Richie Zisk, Davy Lopes and Dusty Baker, among others. The Royals were not in existence yet, but the Kansas City Athletics did draft Blue and Darrell Evans, two players who combined for 104 WAR in their career. Not a bad draft for Charlie Finley.

Mayberry had some early success in the minors and the Astros, desperate for wins, rushed him through their system. He made his Major League debut on September 10, 1968 as a 19-year-old and he appeared in four games that fall. He played in five more games for the Astros in 1969 but didn’t collect a hit. John finally collected his first big league hit on April 9, 1970, a fifth inning single against the Giants Frank Reberger. In hindsight, the Astros mishandled Mayberry badly, bringing him up too soon then shuttling him between the big-league club and AAA several times.

Mayberry had a terrific 1969 season at AAA Oklahoma City, slashing .303/.393/.522 with 21 home runs, 78 RBI, 95 runs and 62 walks in 123 games. You could see that the talent was there, but the Astros were stacked with first basemen, having Bob Watson, Curt Blefary and the underappreciated Rusty Staub on the roster, blocking Mayberry. Staub, known as LeGrand Orange, was a very good player with Houston and despite that, the Astros unbelievably traded Staub to the Expos (in one of many horrible trades the Astros made) prior to the 1969 season. Staub ended his 23-year career as a 46 WAR player, slashing .279/.362/.431, collecting 2,716 hits with 292 home runs and 1,466 RBI while appearing in six All-Star games. With stats like that, a case could be made that Staub is a borderline case for the Hall of Fame.

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The Astros, disappointed that Big John had yet to develop the power they thought he should, for a short time tried turning Mayberry into a slap hitter, which frustrated Mayberry to no end. On November 29th of 1971, the Astros made a doozy of a trade, sending Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo and Jack Billings to the Cincinnati Reds for slugging first baseman (and future Royal) Lee May, in a trade that many rank as the worst in Astros history, which is saying something. The trade made Mayberry expendable and Royals General Manager Cedric Tallis jumped on a deal to pry him away from the Astros for pitchers Lance Clemons and Jim York.

Mayberry put up 21 WAR in his Kansas City career while York and Clemons accumulated a negative 1.7 WAR. Clemons was out of baseball after the 1974 season, having only appeared in nine games after the trade. York hung on through the 1976 season, appearing in 117 games with Houston and the Yankees. Making two trades of this magnitude, in less than a week, calls into question the competency of the Astros front office. On the other hand, the trade, which ranks as one of the best in Kansas City history brings us to the long running mystery: why is Cedric Tallis not in the Royals Hall of Fame?

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Thus began the John Mayberry Era in Kansas City. Manager Bob Lemon made the 23-year-old Mayberry his starting first baseman and John didn’t let him down. Mayberry hit in 11 of his first 12 games as a Royal. In the month of June 1972, Mayberry stroked 32 hits with 6 home runs, 7 doubles and 30 RBI good for a .471 average. From August 25th to the 27th, Mayberry homered in four consecutive games in Yankee Stadium. With the season winding down, on September 29th, Big John cranked a three-run home run off Vida Blue, lifting his RBI total to 100, becoming the first Royal to hit that mark.

In the early to mid-1970’s, Vida Blue was a terror on the mound and one of the most difficult pitchers to hit, especially for lefties. Mayberry also led American League first basemen in five of seven defensive categories. The big change for Mayberry at the plate was batting coach Charlie Lau convincing him to move further from the plate. The results were spectacular: .298/.394/.507 with 25 home runs, 100 RBI and 78 walks. 1972 was the last year that the Royals played in Municipal Stadium, and Mayberry hit the last Royal home run in the old park in a September 29th game against the hated Athletics (he would also become the first player to ever homer in new Royals Stadium). In his first season with the Royals, Big John had become a star.

“I’ve never seen anybody as good as he is at his age for knowing the strike zone. Most big swingers have no idea what a strike is at that age.”

John Mayberry Youth Jersey

-Royals Manager Bob Lemon

The 1972 season began a run of five consecutive years of terrific production from Mayberry.

To prove that 1972 wasn’t a fluke, Mayberry collected 80 RBI in his first 87 games of the 1973 season, on his way to a .278/.417/.478 year with 26 home runs, 100 RBI, and a then club record 122 walks.

Mayberry got off to another great start in 1974 before Injuries started to pile up, limiting him to 126 games. The first was a pulled muscle in his right leg which sidelined him from June 24th to July 29th. The second was a broken right hand, courtesy of a Frank Tanana pitch, which shelved Mayberry from August 6th to August 28th. Early in his career, Tanana was one of the hardest throwers in baseball. Next time Mayberry saw Tanana, prior to a game, he grabbed the lefty and slammed him against the outfield wall, telling Tanana something along the lines that if he ever hit him with another pitch, that violence would be done. Mayberry still managed to hit 22 home runs in the 1974 season. Mayberry faced Tanana 36 more times in his career and hit .387 against him. Tanana never hit him with another pitch.

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In 1975, Big John had a season for the ages, slashing .291/.416/.547 with a then club record 34 home runs, 106 RBI, 95 runs and a league-leading 119 walks. He collected 303 total bases, which was good for second in the league and put up 7.2 WAR. This production earned John a 2nd place finish in the league MVP race.

Mayberry was also known as a clubhouse jester. He could also be relentless with the needle. Prior to the 1973 season, the Royals acquired Hal McRae from the Cincinnati Reds. In those days, there was still a lot of rivalry between the American and National League. Players in the National League had an air about them that they were better and that was resented by players in the Junior Circuit. McRae was determined to change the culture of the Royals – run everything out, break up double plays, never back down. And thankfully, over time, he did change the culture. Successful teams must have someone like Hal McRae to make them accountable. But when McRae got off to a slow start in 1973, Mayberry was relentless with his needling.

This post is a rewrite of my post from last year, “How bad is the 2018 Tigers offense, a historical perspective,” and a reminder that things can always get worse.

Last year, around this time, I compared the dreadful 2018 Tigers offense to the 2003 Tigers (always my touchstone for dreadful baseball). I discovered, to my shock, that the 2018 offense was actually worse than 2003. Hard to believe. I then decided to find out if the team has ever been worse.

As for next year, I would point out that the 2004 Tigers actually were well above average offensively (108 OPS+), thanks to development by young players (Infante, Inge, Monroe, Thames, Munson) and the acquisition of Pudge Rodriguez, Carlos Guillen and Rondell White. This could be a whole separate article, but to sum it up, that is why the Tigers won 29 more games in 2004 than 2003.

Back to the historical perspective: If the Tigers finish the season with their present 79 OPS+, it would be tied for the worst result for an American League team since the 1981 Toronto Blue Jays (4 other teams have had 79 OPS+ — the ’83 Mariners, the ’92 Angels, the ’99 Twins and the 2010 Seattle Mariners). The ’81 Blue Jays had a bunch of very young players who would get much better fast, including Lloyd Moseby, Jesse Barfield, and George Bell.

The ’81 Jays’ worst regular was future NBA player and “who me” poster-boy Danny Ainge (pause for booing), whose 38 OPS+ sent him scrambling to the NBA, which was probably a good choice. Former Royal John Mayberry had a 128 OPS+, and DH Otto Velez had a .213 batting average, but a 116 OPS+. Perhaps only a young Bill James knew that Velez was an above-average hitter at the time.

Anyway, those Blue Jays were probably the team happiest about the mid-year strike that reduced their 1981 season to 106 games.

From a Tigers perspective, the 2019 offense is the worst since… the WWII era Tigers of 1942. With Hank Greenberg off at war, the 1942 Tigers had a team OPS+ of 79 despite good efforts from Rudy York, Pinky Higgins, Barney McCosky and some guys named Ned Harris and Don Ross. The issues were really at catcher, center field, second base and especially shortstop. The Tigers finished 73-81, in 5th place in an eight-team league (like the 2010 Mariners, they had great pitching). The 1942 Tigers featured two Hall of Famers, Charlie Gehringer and Hal Newhouser.

You might be asking — since the pitchers hit, were the 1942 Tigers really worse than our 2018 swingers. The answer is “no.” The non-pitcher OPS+ for the 1942 Tigers was a relatively respectable 87. So, apples to apples, the 2019 Tigers are worse. I would note that Dizzy Trout (pitcher) actually out-hit shortstop Billy Hitchcock.

Only one other Tigers team was indisputably worse than this year’s hitting-challenged team — the 1902 Tigers, who managed a whopping 72 OPS+ (non-pitcher OPS+ 76), making them probably the worst-hitting Tiger team of all time — if you are willing to count a team from 117 years ago. That team finished 52-83, 7th in the American League (which was in its second season). Featuring a lineup composed of players nicknamed Deacon, Pop, Kid, Kid, Doc, Ducky, Dick (possibly his real name) and Jimmy, and bench players Sport, Fritz and Erve, the Tigers were clearly a colorful team — possibly the only double play combination ever where both players were nicknamed Kid.

It must have been exciting when they twisted one — Kid to Kid to Pop at first base. By the way, Pop was 28, and Kid Gleason, the second baseman was 35, so there must have been an accident with a contraceptive and a time machine.

Anyway, they couldn’t hit worth a damn — Kid Gleason had started as a star pitcher in the 1890s, but wasn’t much of a hitter.. Things were so bad that utility man Joe Yeagar also started at pitcher 15 times, and pitcher George Mullin had the highest batting average and second highest OPS+ on the team.

Honorable mention to the 1931 Tigers who had a 82 OPS+ despite Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer and a pretty good starting offense (the bench was terrible).

To answer the fundamental question, has it ever been this bad before? It has… way back in 1902. Maybe.

“Tell us a little more about National League baseball, Hal.”

“Awful lot of talk for a .230 hitter, Hal.”

Finally, one day on the team bus, McRae couldn’t take it any longer. Even though Mayberry was taller and outweighed him, McRae said, “I’ll probably get killed, but here I come.” And with that Hal McRae went after John Mayberry. The fight was broken up, but the message had been delivered. Those Royal teams played hard. They broke up double plays. The ran out grounders and fly balls and if they didn’t, Hal McRae or George Brett would be waiting in the dugout for the scofflaw.

All athletes eventually start to decline. Sometimes it’s caused by injury or drug or alcohol abuse. Sometimes players sign a big contract, get comfortable and lose their fire. Occasionally, they think they’re fashion models or recording artists and forget that they are ballplayers. Most often it’s caused by Father Time. Father Time is undefeated. Mayberry’s decline started in the 1976 season at the age of 27. He still managed to put up a reasonable line of .232/.322/.342 but only hit 13 home runs. He did manage to collect 95 RBI and 82 walks.

Mayberry’s 1977 season was decent at .230/.336/.401. On August 5, 1977, he hit for the cycle against the Chicago White Sox. The power numbers came back to 23 home runs. He chipped in with 82 RBI and another 83 walks, but the Royals brass believed his better days were past him. The end came when John showed up late for Game Four of the ALCS against the Yankees. The rumor was that Mayberry had spent the previous night partying, stayed out way too late and showed up hungover, enraging manager Whitey Herzog. Mayberry started the game, struck out twice, bungled a relay throw and dropped an easy pop foul, which extended a New York inning, until Herzog had seen enough and yanked him for John Wathan after the fourth inning.

Herzog started Wathan in Game five, despite protests from several Royal players, who believed their best chance to beat the Yankees was a lineup with Mayberry in it. After winning a club record 102 games and having a 2-1 lead in the series, the Royals collapsed, losing Games Four and Five, in Kansas City no less, and Herzog laid the blame at Mayberry’s feet.

There were rumors of alcohol and drug use and Herzog had seen enough, demanding that the Royals part ways with their slugger. It helps to understand the times. The mid-to-late 1970s were the disco era and recreational drug use was fairly rampant and somewhat accepted by society. Cocaine was the drug of choice for many in all walks of life. The poor snorted their coke through a straw or a rolled-up dollar bill. The rich and the famous used custom-made spoons and straws for their indulgences. I don’t know if Mayberry was using coke and I’m not suggesting he was, though the drug did rear its ugly head a few years later (1983) resulting in the suspension of several Royals. Over the years, the NFL had their share of cokeheads. The NBA was awash in coke in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I’m sure there was some coke floating around MLB during those years.

Regardless, Kansas City sold Mayberry to Toronto in April of 1978. Just a straight cash sale. No players to Kansas City. No draft choices. A pitiful return for a player who had helped the franchise become a winner. The sale was especially difficult for Ewing Kauffman, who loved Mayberry. Mayberry played for five seasons in Toronto and put up respectable numbers: .256/.352/.450 with 93 home runs and 272 RBI. The Jays traded Mayberry to the Yankees in May of 1982 and John played 69 games in the Bronx before calling it quits at the age of 33.

For his career, Mayberry clubbed 252 home runs and drove home 879 while picking up 25 WAR, most of that in his prime with KC. He was a two-time All Star and received MVP votes in four seasons. He hit one of the longest home runs in Royals/Kauffman stadium history, a shot that bounced off the top of the circular concession stand in the right field plaza.

At 6’3 and 215 lbs., Mayberry was considered a big man in his era. Times have changed. Today a player that size is common place. New Yankee second baseman D.J. LeMahieu stands 6’4 and goes 215 lbs., nearly identical to Mayberry, but despite being a fine player, LeMahieu doesn’t provoke the fear in pitchers that Big John once did.

After retirement, Mayberry worked as a coach in the Blue Jays system for five years. He was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 1996 and Bill James ranks him as the 49th best first baseman in baseball history. His son, John Jr., played for several major league teams, most notably the Phillies. So Big John, here’s looking at you on your 70th birthday.

Anthony Alford Jersey

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When Anthony Alford began his professional journey with the Blue Jays in 2012, the club’s third-round Draft pick was splitting his time between the diamond and the gridiron, and the multisport athlete was relying on his ability and instincts to help him find success in baseball.

In his first few abbreviated seasons, Alford continued to depend on what came naturally, and when he finally had a chance to stay on the field for an extended period, it was what helped him impress.

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“What I did in baseball was pure athletic ability,” Toronto’s No. 20 prospect said. “What people didn’t really understand much when I got into pro ball, in my first three years I had 94 at-bats over the course of three years. Then my first full season, I hit .298 between Low A and High A, and you’re talking about somebody who hadn’t really played in three years.

“I was successful because I just went out there and played. When I started thinking about cleaning up this and doing that and improving my swing, that took away from my athletic ability. If I can just go out there and play the game, not think about certain movements and just focus on competing, that’s when I’m at my best.”

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Blue Jays self scouting reports
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Thomas Pannone
Anthony Alford
What the scouts say
Through parts of eight Minor League seasons in the Blue Jays organization — with five brief stints in the Majors — Alford has compiled 1,814 at-bats. The 25-year-old outfielder has battled injuries as well as lofty expectations in limited opportunities, with bystanders anxiously awaiting his ability to pay dividends.

“The thing that stands out most is the athleticism, but his tools haven’t really played as well as you want them to,” one evaluator said. “I’ve given him so many chances over quite a number of years and he hasn’t really stepped up or made the adjustments that he needs to make.

“If he’s going to become an impact player on a big league team, he needs to use the natural ability that was so impressive when he first came on the scene and show that it can translate sustainably.”

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Alexis Brudnicki
@baseballexis
“I’m definitely a smarter player now but I feel like it kind of hurt me because I overthink things a little too much. I didn’t know anything when I first came in, but I feel like that’s why I was successful.”

Anthony Alford’s scouting report on himself:

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Making the grades
Evaluating himself using a Major League Scouting Bureau report and the 2 to 8 scouting scale, Alford strayed from locking in present grades on all of his tools because of the limited opportunities he’s had to show them in the Majors. He based his future grades on the standards set by the Bureau.

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“It’s realistic that I can hit .300,” Alford said. “If I’m healthy, I can hit in the .285 to .300 range. The thing that’s hurt me in the past were injuries — except last year, I just didn’t hit well last year. So if I hit between .285 and .300 [the corresponding grades are six or seven], and I would say seven, because I’m biased.”

Alford tabbed the strongest aspects of his game as his run speed, baserunning ability and instincts.

“I think my baseball instincts are pretty high, but I’m obviously biased,” he said. “I’m pretty aggressive. And baserunning, that’s one of my strengths. I could be one of the best in the game at baserunning.”

“I think I glide,” he continued, working his way through the descriptors. “My mom [Lawanda] ran track, so I get it from her. I don’t know my home-to-first time, but the last time I ran the 60, I ran a 6.3. That was way back in high school. I’m probably about a 6.4 or 6.5 right now.”

Alford’s nice running catch
Alford’s nice running catch
00:37
Sep. 6th, 2019
Notable exception
One descriptor Alford stayed away from as he worked his way through the report was the word “durable,” after spending a significant amount of time on the sidelines, impacting his ability to build upon the strides he’s made in the interim.

The Toronto Blue Jays will enter the 2019 offseason with financial flexibility and areas that need to be improved, with 3 free agents who could be in play.
Coming into the 2019 offseason, the rebuilding Toronto Blue Jays have a few areas on their roster that could use an upgrade via free agency.

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The starting rotation is particularly young and inexperienced on the MLB stage, with prospects battling for rotation spots this upcoming year in spring training. This is the area that needs the most improvement on the Blue Jays, in that 1-2 free agent pickups with some MLB experience could really improve the current squad.

The front office won’t go crazy and fill out every spot with free-agent pitchers, but an established starter to compliment the up and coming prospects in the rotation could be beneficial once the team hits the end of rebuild road.

Another area the Blue Jays may look to improve upon is in their outfield, primarily in center field. Teoscar Hernandez, the Toronto Blue Jays current center fielder, has not proven to be an everyday starter in the outfield, leading the team to look elsewhere for consistency elsewhere.

There is the potential that outfield prospects like Anthony Alford or Derek Fisher could see some time in this position, with a potential spring training competition determining who goes to the bench and who may be sent packing (whether AAA or other organizations due to lacking options).

First base could also use an improvement, with the possibility that veteran Justin Smoak leaves the organization via free agency this season. Rowdy Tellez is primed to overtake this position for the next few years, but the jury is still out on if he will be a consistent major league contributor. Whether the Toronto Blue Jays look to find options outside of the organization or maybe move a different prospect to first base, this area is probably the least of concern out of the previous two.

The free-agent market can be a rough and tumble time for many fans, and this offseason is going to be no different for Blue Jays fans.

“Definitely, it’s affected me a lot,” the native of Mississippi said. “But I know what I can do when I’m healthy, when I’m playing, when I’m on the field. You’re obviously going to go through ups and downs, but for me it’s a matter of perseverance, fighting through it and overcoming adversity. But I can’t go out there and play not to get hurt.

“When I play, I run a lot, steal bases, slide a lot, dive in the outfield. And all of that takes a toll on your body, but that’s my game. I can’t stop doing that because I’m afraid of getting hurt.”

Buffalo Bisons

@BuffaloBisons
Even if you know I’m going… it won’t matter!!#Bisons Anthony Alford fearlessly stealling bases this year. Here’s his 16TH! of the season, our @BCBSWNY Fearless Play of the Game. #BlueJays

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Continued development
As Alford continues to learn, he acknowledges the information he’s gleaned can have an adverse effect on the field.

“I’m definitely a smarter player now, but I feel like it kind of hurt me because I overthink things a little too much,” Alford said. “I didn’t know anything when I first came in, but I feel like that’s why I was successful because I would just go out there and play. If you overthink, that’s where the failure comes in.”

Using trial and error as he works toward sustained success, Alford is anxiously anticipating an opportunity to see his future grades come to fruition.

“I’m not going to say I’m glad that I went through injuries, but you’d rather face adversity in the Minor Leagues than try to face it here on the big stage,” he said. “I feel like my time is coming, and I don’t know when or where, but it’s coming. And I’m looking forward to when that day does, so I can show what I can do up here.”

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Four Years Ago Today

The Blue Jays won game 4 of the ALDS over the Rangers.

The Jays had lost the first two game of the series and faced an uphill battle. We won this one pretty easily, 8-4, scoring early and often.

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From the recap:

It started off perfect. Ben Revere put down a great bunt single and Josh Donaldson followed with a home run. Then a Colabello home run put us up 3-0, before the Rangers had their first at bat.

Second inning: Kevin Pillar hits a solo homer.

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Third inning: Donaldson walk, Jose Bautista double followed by a Edwin Encarnacion ground out (Bautista tried to go second to third but Elvis Andrus decoyed him and got him at third), scoring Josh. Colabello doubled bringing home another. A Russell Martin walk and a Pillar single and we were up 7-1.

One more run in the seventh got us to 8.

There was a bit of controversy, R.A. Dickey started and went 4.2 innings allowing 5 hits, no walks, 3 strikeouts and just one earned run. He hadn’t run up his pitch count. He was sitting at 78 pitches. But Gibby pulled him one out before he could have had a playoff win on his record.

Gibby brought in David Price. Why? Well, Price hadn’t pitched well in the playoffs in his career. In game one Price allowed 5 runs in 7 innings. I don’t understand making decisions based on small sample sizes like that, Price, coming over at the deadline went 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA.

Jesse Barfield turns 60 today and R.A. Dickey turns 45.

Jesse Barfield was one of my favorite players.

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He was a 9th round pick in the 1977 amateur draft, the first year the Jays (and Mariners) were part of the draft. MLB gave them the last two picks of each round (the big hearted folks they are).

Jesse made it up to the majors in 1981 and spent 9 years with the Blue Jays. He’s near the top of the franchise leader boards in several categories:

4rd in WAR among position players, 29.4
2nd in defensive WAR, 9.2
9th in slugging average, .483
11th in games played, 1032
7th in home runs, 179
9th in RBI, 527
As well as having a great bat, he was a terrific defensive player, with a strong and accurate arm in right field. There are a lot great little stories about Jesse’s arm, that he could stand at the plate and throw the ball over the center field wall. I remember seeing him catching a line drive on a bounce, throw to first and get the batter out at first, more than once. Barfield lead the AL in assists 3 years in a row (1985 to 87) which was more amazing because teams didn’t run on Barfield’s arm. He also had 8 outfield double plays in 1985 (and 21 from 1985-1987), better than most teams would get in a season.

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He, Lloyd Moseby and George Bell played together for several season and were easily the best outfield we’ve ever had. Jesse won two Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger and made the All-Star team once as a Blue Jay.

He was traded to the Yankees in 1989 for Al Leiter, not one of our better trades.

I got a signed ball from him in Cooperstown when we were there for the induction of Roy Halladay. He looks the same as he did back when he played.

Jesse has been pretty active on twitter of late, @JesseBarfield29

Happy birthday Jesse, I hope it is a good one.

But with just game 5 left in the series, presuming the Jays would go on to win this one, Gibby had decided that Marcus Stroman would make the final start. And I guess Gibby wanted to get ahead of any potential controversy over that choice.

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Personally I would have liked to have Price in the pen for game 5, just in case Marcus didn’t have it that day. And I would have liked to let Dickey get the win he earned. I didn’t understand why we’d want to use up a pitcher when Dickey could have gone 6-7 innings and kept us with a rested pen for game 5.

Gibby’s stated reasoning:

Anyway, 2 outs, in the 5th inning, with a runner on first, there was a 95% chance of a win. It’s the definition of a low leverage spot. Shin-Soo Choo, a lefty was up, and Gibby did say something about Choo hitting Dickey well. A quick look at Baseball Reference, yeah he has 5 singles and a double, plus 3 walks in 16 PA. So, he sort of hits Dickey well, but 16 PA is a very small sample and I wish Gibby wouldn’t use small samples as an excuse to make a pitching move.

A better reason for the move is that Choo hits right-handers well. RA isn’t your normal right-hander, but that reasoning would, at least, be reasonable.

I wrote more about it:

The reasons to bring in Price yesterday:

The main one is that he warmed up. Once he warmed up, he really had to get into the game. As much as that’s circular thinking, I got him up to warm, well once he’s warm he has to go in the game. As manager, Gibby controls whether he warms up or not.

Maybe, to shut down controversy. If Price didn’t pitch then, if you pick Stroman to start Wednesday’s game, you are picking him over a Cy Young candidate. That seems wrong somehow. So, you pitch Price in the game before and no more controversy. I think it is a silly reason. If you picked Stroman, have the courage of your convictions and don’t listen to me when I say ‘the guy that you traded for to pitch in games like this has to get the start’.

Because the Astros lost, after having a big lead, earlier in the day. I saw this on Twitter a hundred times. That’s working way too hard to justify the move. First, I don’t think the Astros lost because they didn’t pull their starter in the 5th inning with a 6 run lead. Second, I have confidence in RA. I really didn’t think Price going in made it more or less likely that we would win.

But Grant Brisbee put it better:

An appeal to authority is all we have. Because if this isn’t a carefully measured decision, something beyond the idea that Price is weak in the postseason, something that isn’t an overreaction to a bad start, it has a chance to be remembered in 30 years. It has a chance to be one of the great what-were-you-thinking baseball decisions of our time.

As it turned out, Marcus had a good game in game 5. 6 innings, 2 runs allowed (3 earned) leaving with us down a run. He left with the game tied at 2.

And the the 7th inning was wild (but that’s a story for another day).

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TORONTO — David Wells remembers blowing off the media at times after games he pitched for the Yankees.

The big lefty now regrets it.

Clint Frazier
Yankees’ Clint Frazier says he feels like a misfit and a victim of the media | Here’s entire Q & A

New York Yankees’ Clint Frazier opened up about his defensive struggles and blowing off the media Sunday night.

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David Cone remembers being mad at writers when was a Yankees teammate to Wells.

The ole’ righty had an interesting way of dealing with it.

Now Yankees broadcasters for YES, this topic came up on Tuesday’s telecast due to Clint Frazier refusing to do a post-game interview last Sunday night following an awful showing in right field during a nationally televised loss to the Boston Red Sox.

The Yankees had traded for Boone from the Reds at the Trade Deadline in 2003. An All-Star for the Reds in 2003, he’d hit .273 with 18 homers for Cincy in 106 games. In 54 regular-season games with the Yanks, the only Major League games he’d play for the Bronx Bombers in his career, he hit .254 with six homers. But that’s not what he’s remembered for in Yankees lore.

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The Red Sox got out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning in Game 7, pushing it to 4-0 in the fourth. The Yankees narrowed the gap to 4-2 by the bottom of the seventh, but Ortiz hit a solo homer off David Wells to give Boston a three-run lead. Starter Pedro Martínez allowed three runs on a single and a double in the bottom of the eighth, and the game was tied. It headed to extras, and Tim Wakefield pitched a scoreless bottom of the 10th. But in the bottom of the next inning, Boone, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner for Ruben Sierra in the eighth, got his first plate appearance of the game. He sent Wakefield’s first pitch of the 11th out into the night, and the Yanks were headed to their fifth World Series in six years.

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Must C: Boone’s walk-off homer
Must C: Boone’s walk-off homer
01:05
Oct. 16th, 2003
Todd Pratt, Mets: 1999 NLDS Game 4
The Mets had required an extra game to make the playoffs — a Game 163 tiebreaker with the Reds for the National League Wild Card spot. But in the Division Series, they wouldn’t even require the maximum five games, clinching in four. After the D-backs took a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth, the Mets came back and tied it on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning. Nobody scored in the ninth, and the game went to extras. With one out in the bottom of the 10th, Pratt, a backup catcher who had hit three regular-season homers that year, strode to the plate. He knocked a pitch from Matt Mantei over the wall at Shea Stadium, and suddenly the Mets were headed to the NLCS.

Here’s what they had to say before the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays:

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WELLS: “I know where he’s coming from. But the thing is, I’m out there, I’m pitching and I’m getting my head handed to me … you’re so frustrated that you don’t want to answer questions. You’re in there and you say, ‘I’m not talking tonight,’ and a couple of the guys in the media will say something and you’ll just lose it.

“So I’d just walk away because I didn’t want to say something you’d regret. But the regret is that your teammates have to speak up for you and that’s not supposed to happen. (Cone) did that with me. He said, ‘Hey, listen, you have to take the high road.’

“Somebody has to speak to (Frazier). I did it quite a few times, but it doesn’t look good and it’s not fair to your teammates to have to speak up. Dave sat me down and said you need to speak to these guys … and make it better. And I did, and it does work out a lot better. It really does. Remember, when you start pointing fingers, you have three pointing back at you. But it’s a mess you created. You have to clean it up somehow, someway.”

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CONE: “We all understand the frustration of Clint Frazier, and sometimes Boomer, you thought you were treated unfairly by the media. Whether that’s a perception that’s based out of your own experience or whether it’s true is irrelevant. It’s about whether you want to control the narrative. It’s not about whether you think you’ve been treated unfairly by the media, it’s whether you want to defend yourself in front of your locker.

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“To me, there’s nothing better than … if you feel you’re getting ripped by a certain writer or publication, there’s nothing better than having a good game. Stand in front of your locker and look that reporter in the face. ‘OK, ask me a question now.’ That’s your redemption. You can’t win the battle if you’re going to go up against them and challenge the media. It’s a losing battle.

“All you can do is be in front of your locker, be accountable and don’t take yourself too seriously. If you’re perceived as being a player in any sport who takes himself too seriously, that just creates an atmosphere where they’re going to come after you even harder.”

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Well the worst-kept secret in baseball seems to be a reality now. According to MLB.com reporter Jeffrey Flanagan, Mike Matheny will become the 17th full-time manager of the Royals. (Update: The Royals have made it official).

Alec Lewis

@alec_lewis
Replying to @alec_lewis
Here’s Dayton Moore’s statement on the Mike Matheny hiring:

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The former Cardinals manager had been serving as a special advisor with the Royals since last November. Mike Matheny won 591 games in six and a half seasons with the Cardinals, losing 474 for a .555 winning percentage. His teams won 88 or more games and reached the post-season in each of his first four seasons. He led the Cardiuals to the 2013 National League pennant, falling to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, and his club won an MLB-best 100 games in 2015.

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His teams declined in his last three seasons, missing the playoffs all three years, and he was dismissed midway through the 2018 season with a 47-46 record. Matheny was criticized for clashes with players and a tense clubhouse, and things came to a head when an article at The Athletic detailed Matheny’s approval of veteran pitcher Bud Norris riding rookie pitcher Jordan Hicks hard, to the displeasure of the Cardinals front office. Matheny was dismissed a few days after that article was published.

When Ned Yost announced in September that he would retire as Kansas City Royals’ manager at the end of the 2019 season, former St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny became the obvious favorite to take over the reins in Kansas City. Matheny, 49, had spent the entire year with the organization, after coming on board last November as a special advisor to general manager Dayton Moore, re: player development.

On Thursday, a day after the 2019 season came to an emphatic end, the Royals announced the hiring of Matheny as their next manager.

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The Cardinals fired Matheny last July with a 47-46 record. Matheny became the first MLB manager to be fired mid-season while holding a winning record since the Milwaukee Brewers fired Yost in 2008. In seven seasons with the Cards, Matheny went 591-474, reached the playoffs four times and won the 2013 pennant, falling to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. But under Matheny, the Cards’ winning percentage dropped each season after 2015 and when he was fired, they were on pace to miss the postseason for a third straight year (which eventually did happen) — something that St. Louis had not done since 1997-99. Matheny also spent 13 years as a big-league catcher for the Brewers, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Giants, winning four Gold Gloves.

“Our entire organization is delighted to announce and celebrate the hiring of Mike Matheny,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a press release. “Every department has had the pleasure to work and interact with him this past season. Through this interaction, it became very clear to our leadership team that Mike is the obvious person to lead our baseball team. Mike Matheny is a passionate leader with strong virtues, intelligence, and a relentless commitment to help players reach their full potential. We are looking forward to him and Kristin being a part of this very special city.”

Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler are expected to be frequent names mentioned in trade rumors this offseason. Longtime starting catcher Salvador Perez missed the 2019 season after damage to the ulnar collateral ligament required Tommy John surgery. And, this past August, news broke that David Glass is nearing an agreement to sell the franchise to John Sherman, the vice president of the Cleveland franchise.

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The Royals finished the 2019 season 59-103 (minus-178 run differential), and are still a few years away from seeing their rebuild translate into wins. There’s still a lot of unknown for this franchise, which took home the World Series title just four seasons ago.
So what’s wrong with the Royals hiring Mike Matheny?
Matheny has been described as an old school coach whose philosophies on teaching youths on baseball are outlined in his “Matheny Manifesto.” He has emphasized fundamentals and his Cardinals teams did bunt more than average, but they did not steal many bases in his tenure. Cardinals fans have criticized many of his strategies, such as bullpen management and basing lineups on small sample sizes. Matheny ranked dead last among all active managers in Baseball Prospectus’ Reliever Management metric. He was resistant to analytics in St. Louis, although Jeffrey Flanagan reports he has been working to understand them more in his time in Kansas City.

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The scoop on Mike Matheny from some Cardinals fans
The 49-year old Matheny is an Ohio native who attended the University of Michigan. He enjoyed a 13-year Major League career as a catcher with the Brewers, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Giants, winning four Gold Gloves. He was hired by the Cardinals as manager despite no previous coaching experience but became the first manager ever to reach the playoffs in his first four seasons.

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Matheny’s wife Kristen played field hockey at Michigan and together they have five children. Mike’s son Tate, is an outfielder in the Boston Red Sox organization, his son Luke plays baseball at St. Louis University, and his son Blaise plays baseball at Missouri State University. He is a very outspoken Christian and has been been involved in a lot of charity work off the field.

The Royals also considered internal candidates such as quality control coach Pedro Grifol, who also interviewed twice for the managerial opening with the Giants, as well as bullpen coach Vance Wilson. Flanagan reports they also interviewed some external candidates remotely.

The possibility of Matheny being hired has drawn a lot of ire from Royals fans on the internet, but it is easy to see why Dayton Moore was drawn to Matheny as a candidate. He brings the experience the Royals want to lead their young team back to competitive baseball and he espouses the old school approach and values they have emphasized.

Matheny will need to learn to run a clubhouse better than he did in St. Louis, and perhaps a second chance will give him an opportunity to improve his leadership in that regard, much like Ned Yost evolved between his time managing the Brewers and his time managing the Royals. You wouldn’t think that hiring a pennant-winning manager who won 55 percent of his games would be seen as a risky choice, but the Royals are taking a gamble here. Let’s just hope it works out.

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Pitching is the Blue Jays’ top priority this winter, and Toronto has already made one notable move on that front with its acquisition of Chase Anderson from the Brewers. It remains to be seen whether the Jays will look to free agency or further trades to upgrade its staff, though in regards to the latter option, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports that Toronto’s “catchers have also been drawing interest from other clubs” in preliminary trade discussions.

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Danny Jansen handled the bulk of the work behind the plate for the Jays last season, hitting only .207/.279/.360 over 384 plate appearances but displaying some excellent defensive prowess in his first full MLB campaign. Both StatCorner and Baseball Prospectus cited Jansen as one of the league’s best pitch-framers, with BP also highly praising Jansen’s blocking skills. The 24-year-old held his own at throwing out baserunners, stopped 19 of 61 stolen base attempts.

It was quite a performance for a player who was more touted for his offensive skill coming up through the farm system, and if Jansen can improve to even average production with the bat, he’ll be a very valuable catcher going forward. This could also make him an interesting trade chip, though since Jansen is controlled through the 2024 season, the Jays would certainly want a solid return for his services. It could ultimately make for a tough negotiation since a rival team could rightly argue that Jansen hasn’t yet shown much hitting skill at the big league level.

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A pair of Toronto Blue Jays players have received Gold Glove nominations for their defensive efforts in 2019.
Blue Jays backstop Danny Jansen and first baseman Justin Smoak have been nominated as Gold Glove finalists for their respective positions.

Smoak is no stranger to the process having been recognized in 2018 as well, last season the first baseman lost out to Matt Olson whom he is up against again this year along with Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros.

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The soon-to-be free agent has an impressive .995 fielding percentage with just four errors in 686 putouts. However, the advanced metrics don’t do Smoak any favours as he has -3 Defensive Runs Saved and a -3.2 UZR/150. By comparison, Olson has a 10.5 UZR/150 rating while Gurriel has a 1.9 rating.

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Here are your 2019 #Rawlings #GoldGlove Award Finalists in the American League.

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On its face, it would appear that the Athletics first baseman will repeat as the Gold Glove winner again this season over Smoak.

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Jansen sees himself nominated along with Roberto Perez of the Cleveland Indians and Christian Vazquez of the Boston Red Sox. This is Jansen’s first nomination after his first full season in the majors. None of this years catching nominees were on the ballot in 2018, a year in which Salvador Perez took home the gold.

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The Jays rookie was tabbed as an offence first backstop but has really taken his defensive game to the next level. The 24-year old sported a .995 fielding percentage with 803 putouts and just four errors in 852.2 innings of work. Jansen also threw out 19 of a would-be 61 base stealers while accumulating 12 Defensive Runs Saved.

When looking at the defensive metrics, Jansen will be in tough versus Perez who threw out 20 of 49 runners and had 29 Defensive Runs Saved last season.

NEXT: Roberto Osuna inadvertently back in the spotlight
In the National League, former Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson has been nominated as a finalist. Donaldson is in tough against Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon.

Ultimately, there’s probably more evidence that the Jays still see Jansen less as a trade chip and more as their catcher of the future, so that could make Reese McGuire more expendable. An oblique injury sent Luke Maile to the injured list in July and limited him to just three games for the remainder of the season, as McGuire went on a hot streak and more or less entered into a timeshare with Jansen down the stretch.

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Selected 14th overall by the Pirates in the 2013 draft, McGuire was rather surprisingly traded to Toronto in a 2016 deadline deal, packaged with fellow prospect Harold Ramirez and veteran lefty Francisco Liriano for right-hander Drew Hutchison. The trade was mostly about unloading Liriano’s $18MM in remaining salary for the Bucs, leaving the Jays to potentially reap the benefits from a catcher who has hit very well (.297/.343/.539 with seven homers in 138 PA) in his brief Major League career. McGuire also has above-average blocking and framing grades — something of the opposite of Jansen, McGuire was considered more of a glove-first catcher during his time in the minors.

This leaves Maile looking like a potential non-tender candidate unless the Jays can find a trade partner. The veteran is projected to earn only $800K in arbitration this winter, though may no longer have a spot on Toronto’s roster if Jansen and McGuire are the new regular duo. Maile turns 29 in February, and hit a respectable .248/.333/.366 over 231 PA in 2018, though that solid season was sandwiched between two very poor years at the plate in 2017 and 2019.

The Blue Jays could also look to move younger catchers from within their farm system. Gabriel Moreno (#8), Alejandro Kirk (#12), and Riley Adams (#27) are all ranked within MLB Pipeline’s list of the top 30 Jays prospects. Adams is the most developed, with 81 games at Double-A last season, while Kirk reached the advanced A-ball level and Moreno spent all of 2019 at Single-A Lansing.

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Two of the biggest names in Toronto Blue Jays history are in Charlottetown to teach at a two-day baseball camp.

Roberto Alomar and Lloyd Moseby are helping out at the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Academy Honda Super Camp for players aged nine to 16.

“Well my message is really simple, enjoy the game have fun and try to learn,” said Alomar, a 12-time MLB all-star.

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The goal of the camp is to provide the opportunity to develop baseball skills by teaching the proper mechanics and techniques of the game.

Players rotate through stations that cover skills including hitting, pitching, playing in the infield and outfield, base running and agility.

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“Baseball is one of those games of habits,” said Moseby, who was part of the powerful “Killer B’s” outfield trio for the Blue Jays in the mid-1980s, playing centre field between George Bell and Jesse Barfield.

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“There’s only two habits, good habits and bad habits, and so, it’s just great out here seeing the kids because I was one of those kids.”

Former Blue Jays center fielder Lloyd ‘The Shaker’ Moseby turns 60 today.

Lloyd was our first round pick in the 1978 draft, number 2 overall. The Braves picked third baseman Bob Horner with the number 1 pick. He turned into a pretty good player too. The Mets picked Hubie Brooks next, he was a pretty ok player too, but his biggest claim to fame (at least in my mind) was he was traded to the Expos for Gary Carter.

Lloyd was rushed to the majors (no reason not to rush him, it wasn’t like we had a lot of good players to block his way), he was brought up in May of 1980 at 20 years old and he was a fixture in our outfield for the next 10 years. His first 3 years weren’t great, but he suddenly figured things out in 1983, hitting .315/.376/.499, finishing 15th in MVP voting.

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Lloyd had another good season in 1984, hitting .280/.368/.470. He led the league in triples with 15 and stole 39 bases. He scored 97 runs and drove in 92. He got some MVP votes again. As Bill James said at the time, his strengths were “hitting for power, hitting for average, range, throwing, base running, patience as a hitter. Weaknesses none.”

In 1985 his batting average dropped to .259, but he still walked 76 times, had 18 homers, scored 92 runs and stole 37 bases. 1985 was our first playoff year, we lost out to Royals, Lloyd didn’t have a good series, hitting just .226 in the 7 games. He did score 5 runs and drove in 4. 1986 wasn’t his best year either hitting .253/..329/.418, but he still scored 89 runs and drove in 86, with 21 homers and 32 steals. With his defense, even in a down year, he was a useful player. He made the All-Star team.

1987 was a bounce back year, he had a very good season setting career highs in runs 106, homers 26, RBI 96 and tied for his top season in steals with 39. He hit .282/.358/.473. Lloyd had a small part in baseball history on September 14 when he had a homer in a game where the Jays set a major league record hitting 10 in the game.

His last couple of seasons with the Jays were slowed by injuries to his back and legs (the hard playing surface in Toronto didn’t do him any favors, he would have had a longer career if he played on grass) and he was being pushed out of center field by prospect Junior Felix. His last season with the Jays was 1989 and we made the playoffs again that year. Lloyd did well in our 5 game loss to the A’s, hitting .313/.476/.500 with a homer.

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After the season, Lloyd signed with the Tigers as a free agent. He played there for 2 years, then went to Japan to play for the Yomiuri Giants for a couple of years.

Moseby was part of the Jays outfield that was the best outfield of the 80’s with George Bell and Jesse Barfield. He had terrific range (he needed the range with George Bell playing beside him) and a decent arm. He never won a Gold Glove but likely should have.

Lloyd was one of those players who did everything well but nothing great, so he didn’t get the attention his outfield teammates got. Unfortunately for him most fans at the time only focused on batting average. When he left the Jays he was the team career leader in games played, runs, hits, doubles, total bases, stolen bases and sac flies.

Moseby was a fun guy to watch. Always happy, smiling, my favorite kind of player, someone that enjoys the game. My youngest son went to a couple of the Jays ‘Super Camps’ and he came away loving Lloyd Moseby. Lloyd was great with the kids. My rule has always been, if you are good with my kids, I’m a fan. His outfield mate, Jesse Barfield was another happy, smiling player, I guess George Bell had to go the other way to give the outfield balance.

Lloyd’s place on the Jays franchise leader boards:

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WAR among position players: 6th, 26.0.
Games played: 4th, 1392.
At Bats: 3rd, 5124.
Run scored: 4th, 768.
Triples: 2nd, 50. (Tony Fernandez had 72).
Home runs: 8, 149.
RBI: 7th, 651.
Walks: 3rd, 547.
Steals: 1st, 255.
Happy birthday Lloyd, I hope it is a great one.

Tom Steepe

@TomSteepe
Learning how to turn a double play from @Robbiealomar one of the best to ever play second base at the @BlueJaysAcademy Super Camp in Charlottetown.

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‘In life, anything is possible’
Moseby and Alomar not only teach the young players the fundamentals of the game.

The former major leaguers also share life lessons they’ve learned on and off the baseball field.

“I got cut when I was 10, I got cut when I was 11, so I really take it to heart when I teach,” Moseby said.

“It’s easier to quit in baseball, so when my friends made the team, I was kind of embarrassed. So, you’ve got to have that thing in you that don’t want to give up and I didn’t want to be a quitter, so on my off-time when I was cut, I made sure that I got myself better.”

Roberto Alomar and Lloyd Moseby teach ballplayers between the ages of nine and 16 the fundamentals of the game, like hitting. (Tom Steepe/CBC)
Alomar, regarded as one of the greatest second basemen and all-around players of all time, credits his father Sandy Alomar Sr.’s influence at a young age for much of his success in baseball.

He’s now trying to pass that on to the next generation of players — like those in Charlottetown.

(Tom Steepe/CBC)
“I always believe that in life, anything is possible,” Alomar said. “Everybody has a talent and it’s up to the kids to understand their talent and understand that they have to work hard and I’m not different than them.”

“You have to put yourself in a position in your dreams in order to get there, so I just love when a kid get it, and so, that’s what I’m all about, is just getting kids better,” Moseby said.

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Blue Jays fans can be thankful that they got a glimpse of their future with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, and Bo Bichette all making their Major League debuts. After hearing plenty of excitement around these players, the sons of former all-stars outplayed their dads in their rookie season.

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Cavan Biggio is likely the best Blue Jay second baseman since Yunel Escobar. While many second basemen have failed to stay healthy, Biggio now fills that hole in which the team was missing for so long.

Bo Bichette started the 2019 season out with an injury. After the trade deadline, he made his début and set the record for most consecutive extra-base hit games in a row within his first 11 games. Not only that, Bo had 61 hits in 46 games this season, ending the year with a slash line of .311/.358/.571.

Going into the 2019 season, many felt that Guerrero would dominate the Rookie of the Year race. This was the first time in his professional baseball career where Guerrero slumped, but he had a good second half, slashing at .293/.349/.452.

If the Blue Jays are determined to keep him, then option No. 4 – signing Giles to an extension – makes the most sense, although there’s risk here, too.

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Since coming over as part of the return from the Houston Astros for Roberto Osuna, Giles has made clear to everyone how much he’s liked Toronto. He’s formed a tight bond with pitching coach Pete Walker. He’s been able to rebound on the field after some well-documented struggles in Houston. It’s worked out so well for him that he hoped to not be traded before this year’s deadline.

“I was just enjoying myself, honestly,” Giles said. “Not that I didn’t want to be traded or go to a contender, but once you feel comfortable somewhere, you really don’t want to go anywhere. For one, this place makes my family happy and when my family’s happy, I’m happy. Winning is always a great thing in life, but it’s not always everything. I want to enjoy myself.”

The Blue Jays don’t have an obvious internal candidate for closer coming through the system, even with a bevy of power arms like Canadian Jordan Romano, Justin Shafer and Jason Adam knocking on the door. Sean Reid-Foley is an interesting possibility, but for now the Blue Jays seem intent on exhausting his chances as a starter.

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Signing Giles for, say, two years beyond 2020, when he’s projected to earn $8.4 million in his final year of arbitration by MLB Trade Rumors, makes sense for a team with aspirations of really competing in 2021.

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On the flip side, there’s potential for volatility in Giles’ performance, especially given his past in Philadelphia and Houston. The elbow issues in 2019 are a concern for a pitcher as reliant on fastball velocity as he is, but he’s been remarkably durable, hitting the injured list for the first time in his career. “I’ve never been in that situation before,” he said. “It might happen more in my career but at least now I know what to expect. Not feeling 100 per cent all season, I made my adjustments, went with my gut feelings most of the time and I stuck with what I came up with.”

Still, every financial commitment the Blue Jays make now is one they’re not making in the future, so is he someone they want to tie up money in?

To this point, according to Giles, “we have not” had extension talks. “I’m pretty sure if that comes about, I’m more than willing to listen. If it’s not, it is what it is. I know the direction this organization is going and I’m not going to push something that’s not necessary.”

Pitching
Blue Jays can also be thankful that pitchers such as Ryan Borucki and Matt Shoemaker are due for a comeback season in 2020. As injuries played a significant part of their season, one can hope they will be back and better than ever. With plenty of spots open in the 2020 rotation, prospects such as Nate Pearson, Patrick Murphy, Anthony Kay, and T.J. Zeuch can provide for pitching depth when the teams seemed to lack it.

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In the bullpen, Ken Giles had a great start to the season, but injuries limited him in the second half. Blue Jays fans can be thankful for bullpen arms such as Justin Shafer and Jason Adam who were nice surprises this season. The Blue Jays had the third most bullpen innings in 2019. Yet, their bullpen finished above average despite veteran pitchers traded away.

Veteran Presence
As the team got younger, veteran leadership is essential in guiding young players as they become major leaguers. Thankfully, Randal Grichuk did a good job as a leader on and off the field. As the Blue Jays home run leader in 2019, fans can celebrate that he will be a Blue Jay for at least 4 more years.

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HOUSTON – Relegated to be the bullpen for the post-season, former Blue Jays all-star J.A. Happ was itching to be a factor for the New York Yankees in this ALCS.

The personable lefty got the chance to do so as Sunday night almost turned to Monday morning here in Texas, but was the victim rather than the victor.

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Astros shortstop Carlos Correa took the first pitch of the bottom of the 11th inning over the wall in right field as the Astros scored a 3-2 win to even the best-of-seven ALCS at a win apiece.

The series resumes in New York for Games 3, 4 and 5, starting on Tuesday, with the drama now on high.

“Trying to go elevated fastball which I did, and he put a good swing on it and got it,” Happ said of the mighty miscue. “It was a well-pitched game for both sides, obviously. Those were two really good lineups and it was a battle all night long.”

And what a long night it was – four hours and 49 minutes in a game that felt like it had vastly more significance than just one of seven.

The Astros knew they couldn’t afford to go down 0-2 and into the mayhem of the Bronx. The Yankees know they still have to win a game started by either of the Astros aces, Justin Verlander or Gerrit Cole, who gets the ball in Game 3.

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The Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals records both stood at 20-31 on May 24th. Their seasons diverged from there, but what can we learn from the 2019 World Series Champions?
Congratulations to the Nationals on their World Series Championship. After only qualifying for the wildcard with 93 regular season wins, they trailed in all five elimination games they faced in these playoffs and came back to win it all, winning the wildcard play-in against the Brewers, beating the 106 win Dodgers in the series deciding fifth game of the NLDS, sweeping the Cardinals in the NLCS, and then coming back against the 107 win Astros in a decisive game seven of the World Series, winning all four of their games in Houston. All with Los Viejos (“The Old Ones”), and the oldest average age roster in MLB at 31 years young.

Happily, there are some strong parallels for Jays fans to draw from this improbable Championship, suggesting our team might not actually be that far away from meaningful October baseball. We have a young core of twenty-something studs to build around in Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., which could turn in to our version of Juan Soto, Víctor Robles, and Trea Turner. Both teams have Spanish-speaking managers with Puerto Rican connections in Dave Martinez and Charlie Montoyo. And both teams woke up this past May 25th with identical 20-31 records.

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So besides the ongoing “rebuild” in Toronto, what explains the difference between how the Nationals went 73-38 from that point onwards, only the fifth time a team under .500 in their first fifty games has gone on to win the World Series, and how the Jays only won 47 more games from that point on? Maybe that gap of 26 fewer wins could be closed surprisingly quickly if Jays ownership and management are willing to learn from the success of these Nationals?

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The most obvious gap is payroll. The Nationals spent $200 million this year on their competitive balance payroll according to Spotrac; the Jays, by comparison, spent $126 million, but that included $45 million in retained salaries for Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, and Kendrys Morales. There’s no getting around the fact that Blue Jays ownership and management has to spend more and be in the top half of Opening Day payrolls by at least 2021 when General Manager Ross Atkins has promised fans a “competitive” team. World Series teams spend. And in an earlier article I’d written comparing the gaps with both the Nats and Astros, more than 50% of that payroll needs to go to your starting rotation, set-up men and closer. It’s dominant pitching, premium pitching, and ace pitching.

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Baseball America

@BaseballAmerica
24 of the last 25 World Series champions ranked in the top half of Opening Day payrolls.

The one outlier?

The 2003 Marlins. https://buff.ly/2PAFQhm

World Series Champion Opening Day Payroll Ranks Over The Last 25 Years
Spending money doesn’t guarantee a World Series ring, but 24 of the last 25 champions all crossed one particular payroll threshold.

baseballamerica.com
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Veteran Talent

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The next gap is veteran talent. The average Jays player on the current 40-man roster was 26 years old at the start of the 2019 season. The average age of the Nationals on their World Series roster was 31, a five-year average age difference. That experience can be explained in part by Nats starters Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin – aged 35, 31 and 30, respectively. These three combined to pitch 34 1/3 innings of the 63 innings in the World Series and win all four games. World Series MVP Strasburg went 5-0 in the playoffs with the third-lowest World Series ERA ever.

“I see two incredible teams going at it with strengths on both sides,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “What a big win. We just have really good players and really good feel for the moment. We’ve had some really big wins in this ball park.

“We heard the talk in the last 24 hours – we got pushed in the face yesterday. I’m just really proud of how our guys stayed in the moment.”

Through two games, anyway, it certainly feels that we’re in for a reprise of the thrilling seven-gamer these two put on two years ago, with the Astros winning on their way to a World Series title.

Happ actually got the Yankees out of a jam in the 10th after Jonathan Loaisiga walked Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, by striking out Yordan Alvarez and inducing a weak pop-up from Yuli Gurriel.

But when the Yanks were unable to take advantage in the top half of the next inning – with Correa flexing and the crowd buzzing – it ended in a flash in the 11th.

“Going into that last inning I thought, ‘I feel like I got this,’” Correa said. “And I had the right approach against (Happ).

“I saw a good pitch down the middle and I drove it the other way.”

The road to get to that emphatic game winner – punctuated with a mini bat flip and Correa putting his hands to his ears as the crowd went wild – was a long one.

The game winner was the first score since the fifth inning, almost two hours earlier – as savvy pitching and lengthy at bats fuelled the duel.

The big moments were many, however.