Category Archives: Toronto Blue Jays Gear

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The Blue Jays have met with the representatives for free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal, reports ESPN’s Marly Rivera (via Twitter).

It’s perhaps a curious fit upon first glance, given the Jays’ stated focus on adding rotation help, but interest in Grandal reflects both the Jays’ bulk of payroll flexibility and the uniqueness he brings to the free-agent market. One of the best-hitting catchers in the game (if not the best), Grandal also rates as an elite pitch framer, a quality pitch blocker and an average or better thrower. The switch-hitter, who turned 31 last week, has been an above-average hitter from both sides of the plate in four of the past five years and has clubbed 22 or more home runs each season from 2016-19.

Beyond his offensive acumen, bringing on a catcher with Grandal’s experience and framing abilities could be viewed as an important aspect of the Jays’ development of young pitchers. The Toronto rotation is teeming with uncertainty, but young arms like Anthony Kay, Trent Thornton, Sean Reid-Foley, Jacob Waguespack, Nate Pearson and T.J. Zeuch will all likely log some MLB innings in 2020, and the Jays have several intriguing arms on the horizon beyond that bunch. Newly acquired righty Chase Anderson is surely comfortable with throwing to Grandal as well.

Toronto already has Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire and Luke Maile on the 40-man roster, though the Jays have reportedly been receiving trade interest in some of their backstops. Jansen, in particular, rates out as a brilliant defender and was ranked among the game’s top 100 prospects as recently as last offseason. This year’s .207/.279/.360 batting line wasn’t much to look at, but Jansen is only is still just 24 and has another five seasons of club control remaining.

The Jays shouldn’t be considered any kind of favorite to win the Grandal bidding based on one early meeting, of course. GM Ross Atkins and his staff are surely casting a wide net in free agency and doing their best to gauge interest in a variety of free agents. Knowing Grandal’s asking price could also be important when discussing the Jays’ in-house catchers in trades with other teams and, more broadly, when trying to get a sense for how the rest of the league plans to approach the winter. But the meeting between the two sides is reminder both of the fact that Toronto could be more aggressive than some would expect from a 71-win team and that Grandal will draw interest from unexpected teams between now and his eventual signing.

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Toronto Blue Jays prospects Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. both received votes for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, with Biggio garnering more votes than his third base counterpart.
The Toronto Blue Jays had quite a few prospects on their active roster this season due to the rebuild, such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Rowdy Tellez, Danny Jansen, Cavan Biggio,and Bo Bichette.

At the end of the season (before postseason begins), two eligible journalists of the Baseball Writer’s of America Association from each MLB city submit their top three picks for who they believe should win the A.L. Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award. It is a point based system where a first place vote receives five points, second place receives three points, and third place receives one. The Houston Astros prospect Yordan Alvarez took home top honours this season, receiving a unanimous 30 votes for 1st place.

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Cavan Biggio was the highest ranking Blue Jays prospect, receiving two 2nd place votes and one 3rd place vote for a total of seven points.

Cavan Biggio finishes 5th in AL Rookie of the Year voting, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 7th.https://t.co/Su73S3ACCu pic.twitter.com/jyF3nknUXn

— Yahoo Sports Canada (@YahooCASports) November 12, 2019

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would be next and the last Blue Jays prospect on the list, receiving one 2nd place vote and two 3rd place votes for a total of five points.

This comes as a bit of surprise, as the highly-touted Vladito was a betting favourite at the beginning of the season to bring home the ROY award. The former #1 ranked prospect did have his struggles early on this season, but ultimately finished with a respected slash line of .272/.339/.433, as well as 15 home runs, 69 RBI’s, and 26 doubles. While he did not crank out a bajillion home runs like Blue Jays fans were hoping for, he did produce at the plate for a young prospect still learning the ropes in the big leagues.

The one caveat on Guerrero Jr’s rookie season resume was his defence. While he did make some outstanding plays on the hot corner, as well as some powerful throws across the diamond, he did create some errors on ground balls that should have been routine for a major league third baseman. He would finish the season with a .936% fielding percentage, and would tie for second place for the most errors for third baseman in the MLB with 17.

This area will need to be worked upon this off-season and moving forward, unless the organization decides to move him to a 1B/DH role like some writers and fans (including myself) are predicting in the future.

Cavan Biggio was an interesting story for the rebuilding Toronto Blue Jays this season. Son of former MLB player Craig Biggio, Cavan was called up to the team in mid-May and would slot right in at second base, taking over for the injured Devon Travis and the ‘struggling at second base’ Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Biggio would have a pretty successful rookie season, his eye at the plate being the key focal points showcasing how talented he truly is.

The Notre Dame product would spend the majority of his time at second base, but also played some games at 1st base, as well as in the outfield in right field. While he didn’t look super confident as an outfielder, it was his play at second base that truly stood out. He was able to make consistent plays and turn double plays with ease that made fans feel better when the ball was hit out his way.

He would finish the season with a .989 fielding percentage at second base (.988 for all positions over the season), and would commit only five errors in just 101 games. His defence was rated at -2.7 by Fangraphs for the 2019 season, but with some more time spent on the field moving forward, he seems like a legitimate option to keep turning double plays with Bichette moving forward, turning into an above-average fielder at the MLB level.

Cavan Biggio would finish the season with a .234/.364/.429 slash line to go along with 16 home runs, 48 RBI, and an impressive 71 walks. His eye at the plate was his most impressive quality, which is why he had would finish the season leading all rookies in walks and would hit for the cycle as a rookie.

While the batting average could stand to be improved upon, as well as the number of times he struck out (123), Biggio’s rookie season was quite impressive considering the hype behind prospects like Guerrero Jr. and Bichette heading into the 2019 season.

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In the long run, will anyone remember who came in second place or third place in the 2019 ROY Award? Not really, mostly because not every ROY winner turns out to be a sure fire Hall of Famer. A player isn’t defined by their rookie season alone and the potential behind many of the Blue Jays prospects has yet to be fully defined.

There is tons of upside for players like Guerrero Jr. and Biggio, who performed quite well in their rookie seasons for a fanbase that didn’t really have a lot to cheer for. There are obvious areas where these players, as well as the other Blue Jays prospects, will need to improve upon heading into their sophomore seasons, but the base core is starting to take shape during the rebuild, which is exactly what management set out to accomplish during this process.

Follow this with a supporting cast of other talented prospects with a dash of veteran presence in Randal Grichuk and Ken Giles (before he most likely gets traded), and the Toronto Blue Jays look to be setting themselves up nicely for the future.

NEXT: Blue Jays: Why they could afford to trade one of their catchers
The rocky waves of the rebuild will most likely hurt for the next few seasons while the Blue Jays prospects continue to find their groove, but the end goal of reaching the postseason seems to be drawing closer and closer when looking towards the end of the rebuilding horizon.

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Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Ryan Borucki throws during first inning American League MLB baseball action against the Cleveland Indians, in Toronto, Monday, July 22, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Thornhill

TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays did some off-season housekeeping on Monday night, moving players between their Major League Baseball roster and triple A.

Pitchers Ryan Borucki, Tim Mayza and Matt Shoemaker as well as outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., were reinstated from the 60-day injured list.

Pitchers Buddy Boshers, Brock Stewart and Ryan Dull as well as second baseman Devon Travis were outrighted to the triple-A Buffalo Bisons. Boshers elected to go into free agency.

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Right-handed pitcher Ryan Tepera was designated for assignment.

Borucki began the 2019 season on the 10-day injured list with left elbow inflammation and was transferred to the 60-day injured list on April 15, retroactive to March 25. He made four rehab starts across three levels before being reinstated on July 21.

The lefty recorded two starts with Toronto before returning to the injured list on July 31, retroactive to July 28, with left elbow inflammation for the remainder of the season. He underwent surgery to remove a spur in his left elbow on Aug. 8.

Gurriel hit .277 with 19 doubles, two triples, 20 home runs and 50 RBIs in 84 games last season. The right-handed hitter was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left quad strain from Aug. 10 to Sept. 13. He then missed the final four games of the season after undergoing an appendectomy and was placed on the 60-day injured list on Sept. 25.

Mayza held a 1-3 record with a 4.91 earned-run average across a team-leading 68 relief appearances with Toronto last season. He was placed on the 60-day injured list after undergoing Tommy John surgery on the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow on Sept. 18.

Shoemaker made five starts before landing on the 10-day injured list with left knee sprain on April 21. He missed the remainder of the season after undergoing ACL reconstruction and medial meniscus repair on April 30, and was placed on the 60-day injured list on May 15.

Travis missed the entire 2019 season after undergoing surgery on his left knee and was placed on the 60-day injured list on March 25.

Boshers held a 0-3 record with a 4.05 ERA across 27 relief appearances with Toronto last season. The left-handed pitcher was signed by the Blue Jays as a free agent on May 22 and was assigned to triple-A Buffalo.

Dull was claimed off waivers by Toronto on Sept. 18 and made his only appearance as a Blue Jay on Sept. 27.

Stewart recorded a 4-0 record with a 8.31 ERA across 10 relief appearances as a Blue Jay, striking out 16 batters in 21.2 innings pitched.

Tepera put together a 0-2 record with a 4.98 ERA across 22 relief appearances and one start last season. He started the season on the 10-day injured list with right elbow inflammation and made his season debut on April 18. The righty made 12 appearances before returning to the injured list on May 21 with a right elbow impingement.

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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.”

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-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.

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With minor league free agent declarations Monday (finally formally confirmed yesterday with the transactions posted by MLB), Dalton Pompey and Danny Barnes are officially no longer members of the organization. That not only closes the books on their Blue Jays careers, but also on the 2010 amateur draft.

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The 2010 draft was the first under Alex Anthopoulos, and armed with the 11th overall pick and three “sandwich round” compensatory picks in the top 50 was supposed to lay the foundation of the rebuild that was underway. It represented a radical turn of the page, between an almost total overhaul in philosophy and vastly expanded scouting and financial resources committed.

2010 draft class
I’ve listed all draftees who made the big leaguers, as well as those who didn’t but received bonuses of at least $500,000. There are three WAR totals, each of which is the average of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference. The first is the player’s total WAR. The second is the WAR produced while in team control years which were directly traced to the draft. So this excludes anything after the initial contract is severed. The final is what was produced for the Blue Jays. The final column is remaining year of control for the player, since while the books are closed for the Blue Jays, they are not totally closed for the players.

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Today’s trade surely signals that the Brewers weren’t sold on retaining Anderson at that $8.5M rate. They could’ve bought him out and retained him via arbitration — Anderson has not yet reached six years of MLB service but will in 2020 — but MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected an even heftier salary in arbitration ($10.3M) than he’d earn on this option. Anderson may not be given the green light to turn an opponent’s lineup over for a third time with too much frequency next year, but he’ll presumably have a longer leash on a start-to-start basis than he did with the Brewers.

The Blue Jays entered the offseason needing to add several pitchers to a beleaguered rotation that lacked even a modicum of clarity heading into 2020. Right-handers Trent Thornton and Jacob Waguespack were the de facto members of the starting staff prior to today’s trade, but Thornton struggled to keep his ERA south of 5.00 while Waguespack threw just 65 1/3 Major League innings (4.13 ERA, 4.81 FIP). Toronto will also likely have veteran righty Matt Shoemaker back in 2020, but he’s a bit of an unknown coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered early in the 2019 campaign. Righties T.J. Zeuch and Sean Reid-Foley also received auditions in 2019, as did southpaw Anthony Kay. That trio will be in the mix once again next season, as well.

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Even with Anderson now on board, the Jays will surely be in the market for additional help on the starting staff — likely some higher-ed names than Anderson, who’ll be more of a back-of-the-rotation stabilizer. Toronto general manager Ross Atkins stressed at his end-of-season press conference that the Blue Jays need to find “pitching we can count on,” emphasizing that merely stockpiling depth wouldn’t be good enough. “We need to have guys that can contribute in significant ways,” he said at the time.

Overall, the 2010 draftees have produced 29 WAR, almost all of that on their control year relating to the draft. That latter number will go up as Noah Syndergaard still has two years left before being free agent eligible.

It’s often said that a successful draft is if a team finds one average or better regular, one other solid contributors, and then a few big leaguers. By that standard, the 2010 draft is a success with Syndergaard, Sanchez, and then a handful of contributors. However, I’d submit the bar should be significantly higher with three extra high picks, as well as multiple above slot bonuses below. Overall, I’d say the success of the class is underwhelming in that context.

Moreover, very little of that has accrued to the Jays, at under 10 WAR. Granted, the Jays got four quite affordable year of R.A. Dickey in part from moving Syndergaard that have to be factored in, but they completely threw away Sam Dyson. In the end, the draft class didn’t lay the foundation for the future as was hoped.

With the surprising DFA of Ryan Tepera as well on Monday as the Jays whittled the 40-man down to 40, there also no remaining members of that draft class remaining in the organization either. That was the last draft under J.P. Riccardi, whose drafting was much maligned, and also a tumultuous draft as the failed failed to sign two top picks including Canadian James Paxton.

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2009 draft class
Despite whiffing at the top, 2009 actually turned into a pretty productive class, with the draft WAR sitting at 30 with the potential for a little more. It produced a solid regular in Yan Gomes, a complementary big leaguer in Jake Marisnick, and multiple role players who have had solid careers.

Unfortunately, again not a whole lot of that accrued to the Jays, as they gave away Gomes and Marisnick was moved before he reached the majors. There remains indirect future benefit as well, with the acqusitions of Jacob Waguespack and Reese McGuire at least in part directly traceable to 2009 draftees.

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While it didn’t happen within the last weeks like the two draft classes discussed above, there was a third Blue Jays draft class for which the books were similarly closed in 2019. The early April trade of Kevin Pillar eliminated the last remaining player from the vaunted 2011 draft class.

That was last uncapped draft before hard bonus slot and overall spending restrictions were implemented with the 2012-16 collective agreement, and the Jays famously went hog-wild, perhaps even full tilt, in splurging on highly rated high school talent. Here is how it all worked out:

2011 draft class
What’s interesting is that despite having so many extra picks, investing so much money (at least compared to 2009), the overall results end up in a very similar range: a little over 30 WAR to date, about 30 draft WAR, and about 10 WAR for the Jays. There remains some room for those numbers to grow, especially Joe Musgrove and Daniel Norris.

They did find a regular in Kevin Pillar, and he accounts for almost everything the Jays reaped from the class. Moving some young pitchers got them J.A. Happ (who was no more than mediocre that first time around, then Michael Saunders) and three months of David Price. But overall, one can’t help but feel let down with what came of this draft class for the Blue Jays given how deep the 2011 draft was, how many picks they had, how much they invested. Funny enough, Boston and Tampa had a ton of picks themselves, and didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory with their success rates either.

2019 was the first year a draft class was closed out since the 2007 class was closed out by Brett Cecil’s free agency three year ago. Which is likeliest to be next? Anthony Alford and Ryan Borucki are the only remaining players from the 2012 class, but could or hopefully should be around for up to five more years. There are five members of the 2013 class on the 40-man, with Danny Jansen and Patrick Murphy potential regulars well into the future. 2014 has Sean Reid-Foley, Jordan Romano and Justin Shafer, one of whom should stick around for the foreseeable future. So my money would be jumping ahead to 2015 where only eight players remain in the organization and the hopes would be pinned on Jackson McClelland and maybe Jon Harris.

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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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The Toronto Blue Jays brain trust has proclaimed they will be looking to improve the roster this offseason via the trade route, however, which players are completely untouchable?
The Blue Jays will be searching for controllable impact arms this offseason but as we all know that will not come cheap especially seeing the Jays don’t historically wade into the deep end to land the high priced free-agent catch.

Ross Atkins and company definitely have the assets to net a big fish via trade but who would you be willing to part with from the current roster. In order to get quality, sometimes you have to give up quality.

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NEW YORK — Major League Baseball’s average attendance dropped 1.7% this year for its fourth straight decline, and five of the six biggest drops were by teams with losing records.

Toronto, Seattle, San Francisco and Detroit combined for more than 1.8 million fewer tickets, and a 259-388 won-lost record.

The 30 teams averaged 28,339, according to the commissioner’s office, down from 28,830 last year — the first time the average was below 30,000 since 2003. Total attendance of 68.5 million was down more than 5 million from 2015.

The players’ association maintains attendance has been hurt by an increase in rebuilding teams, which its members and staff label “tanking.”

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“The wilful failure of too many franchises to field competitive teams and put their best players on the field is unquestionably hurting our industry,” union head Tony Clark said last week.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says rebuilding is cyclical and attendance and record correlate in some markets but not all. He also points out the success of the sport in television ratings and an increase in minor league gates.

ATLANTA – By now, the front office flair of Alex Anthopoulos is well recognized and for the most part appreciated by the win-now segment of baseball fandom.

The Montreal native who helped build the Blue Jays franchise back into prominence a few years back recognizes the nuances of the modern game and the importance of having a deep and productive farm system.

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But there is a craps player at the core of Anthopoulos as well, a gambler not shy about rolling the dice to make a big score when the timing and the table conditions are just right.

He did it in Toronto, boldly trading for players such as Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and David Price while signing others like Jose Bautista and Russell Martin, all huge components in setting up the playoff runs of 2015 and 2016.

Now as the Braves begin their post-season journey here on a sizzling Thursday evening in the south, and considered as a sleeper threat to win it all, one of his latest high-stakes moves is a big reason why.

For the second time in their respective careers, third baseman Donaldson and general manager Anthopoulos are together for some October baseball. And to this point anyway, it couldn’t have worked out better.

“We gave him the biggest one-year contract in the history of the game and that contract reflected the fact that we thought he had a chance to be healthy and if he was, he would be one of the better players in the game,” Anthopoulos said in an interview with the Toronto Sun. “Short term it was good for both sides. Josh had been hurt for two seasons in a row so there was always that risk.

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“From his standpoint, a lot of things lined up well for him. But really, this is what we all hoped for.”

That one-year, $23 million US deal had its skeptics on both sides. Why would the Braves, for example, pay that kind of money for a player who couldn’t stay healthy in his final two years with the Jays?

And for Donaldson, at age 33, why would he agree to a one-year deal at this point in his career?

The answer for both was risk-reward and trusting their respective instincts.

“We understood when we got him that he was in line for a big contract with Toronto and unfortunately he got hurt,” Anthopoulos said. “Both of us looked at this as a place for him to rebuild his value, be in a good clubhouse on a good team and to re-establish himself.

“For us, the advantage was that coming into 2019 we knew what we had here and that he could be a valuable addition.”

Anthopoulos hit all the right notes in his pitch for the Bringer of Rain. Come to the south and play for a team you were a fan of as a kid. Be a role model for a young, talented and motivated group of players. And finally, get healthy and lead that team to the postseason.

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“It’s been a good fit for him,” Anthopoulos said. “First and foremost, Josh wanted to go to a team where he had a chance to win. Obviously, that was important to him. We had just come off winning the division and adding him only made us that much more competitive. And his familiarity with the staff helped.”

The familiar face factor was indeed critical to Donaldson, especially given his frustration with the Jays the previous year when he missed most of the season due to a variety of ailments.

When the Jays fired head trainer George Poulis after the 2017 season, Anthopoulos wasted little time bringing him and assistant Mike Frostad to Atlanta. The long-time Jays employee and Donaldson were tight, a relationship that immediately flourished here.

“There’s no magic, it’s his hard work,” Poulis said of Donaldson’s resurgence. “He’s very, very diligent at working.

“It’s the same as I remember in Toronto. I’ve been in this game for 30 years and I’ve always had a deep respect for the everyday player. To see Josh do it and be determined … He’s a special person, no question.”

Almost incredibly given his age, the violence of his swing and his recent injury history, Donaldson has been that reliable everyday player in 2019, a force at the plate and a reliable defender at third.

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Health has been key, as he has both trusted his body and worked to get it back to the supreme condition that allowed him to play in 155 games including 100 consecutive.

“When I was hurt, there were some people who thought I didn’t want to play,” Donaldson said, shaking his head. “They thought I was done. They had no idea what I was going through. That’s not me.”

The logical next question is one that is on hold — for now. What’s next for Donaldson?

If he leads the Braves to their first playoff series win since 2001 and to a 10th World Series appearance in franchise history, it will be difficult to let him get away.

“Everything that both sides hoped would happen has,” Anthopoulos said. “He came here and was comfortable, was able to stay on the field and was able to perform at a high level to put himself in a position to get the contract he deserves.

“Whether that will be from us, we’ll see. Rightfully there’s going to be a lot of demand on him. We think we have a lot to offer as well. Josh has been great and has been a huge part of our success. We’d love having him here long term.”

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George Poulis is a big fan of his boss and not just because the Braves general manager rescued him off the unemployment line when the long-time trainer was let go by the Blue Jays.

In Braves Alex Anthopoulos, Poulis sees a winning personality with motivation to excel.

“Alex is a guy who is very driven,” said Poulis, who worked for Anthopoulos with the Jays and was hired in Atlanta prior to the 2018 season. “He doesn’t settle for second best. Every waking hour, he’s working and pushing people to get better around him.

“That’s what I love about Alex the most. He makes us all better people.”

As for third baseman Josh Donaldson, Poulis is also rather bullish on the Bringer of Rain.

“I’m not into predictions, but I’ll never bet against this guy,” Poulis said.

“We’re going to draw 68-plus million people at the big league level,” Manfred said, “another 41 million in minor league baseball — they’re actually going to be up. I’ll take 110 million people going to see the sport live. That’s a really, really awesome number in an environment where people have more and more and more alternatives to consume.”

Toronto had the biggest home attendance drop, falling 575,137 in a season in which the Blue Jays went 67-95 for their third straight losing season and most losses since 1980.

Seattle fell 507,769 as the Mariners went 68-94, their poorest record since 2011. San Francisco went down 448,425 and ended a streak of nine consecutive seasons at 3 million or more that coincided with three World Series titles. The Giants went 77-85 in their third straight losing season.

Detroit dropped 355,540 while going a big league-worst 47-114, the second-most losses in team history. The Tigers’ 1.5 million home attendance was their lowest since their 119-loss season in 2003.

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Washington, which earned an NL wild card and beat Milwaukee to reach the Division Series, fell 269,823 following the departure of Bryce Harper to Philadelphia as a free agent.

Baltimore dropped 256,385 while going 54-108, and the Orioles’ 1.3 million fans at home were their fewest in a non-shortened season since 1978 at old Memorial Stadium.

In all, home attendance dropped for 14 of the 30 teams, although three of those teams fell by less than 100,000, Miami rose by 198 people to 811,302 while going 57-105 in Derek Jeter’s second season as chief executive.

Kansas City went down by 185,448 and fell below 1.5 million for the first time since 2006.

On the plus side, Philadelphia rose 569,297 after signing Harper and despite an 81-81 record finished above 2.7 million for the first time since 2013, when the Phillies started a streak of six straight losing seasons.

Minnesota went up 334,955 boosted by a 101-61 record, the second-most wins in team history, San Diego went up 227,863 after signing free agent slugger Manny Machado but skidded to a 70-92 record. The New York Mets went up 217,537 boosted by an August spurt and their first winning record since 2016.

Rays win American League Wild Card 5-1

For me personally and most of you, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are going nowhere. That is a no-brainer. However, I value Cavan Biggio just as high as the likes of Bo and Vladdy. The baseball IQ and raw tools he put on display over the final two months of the season is very promising. Biggio is untouchable.

That leaves Lourdes Gurriel Jr. as possibly your best trade chip from the roster and although I am a huge Gurriel fan, I am listening if a team comes calling and is willing to offer up an arm. Gurriel has shown flashes of brilliance with the stick but has struggled to remain on the field due to injury at times.

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Blue Jays’ Mark Shapiro “Not Looking To Win The Off-Season”
Obviously, the Jays are not parting with Nate Pearson as the plan is to couple him with whoever they can acquire at the front of the rotation. Alek Manoah and Eric Pardinho are probably also on the no-trade list among minor leaguers.

There is some speculation in Blue Jays circles that the team acquired Simeon Woods Richardson to flip for a pitcher closer to being MLB ready this offseason. That type of move would make sense as he is still a number of years away and Atkins was pumping his tires pretty hard following the trade.

NEXT: Blue Jays: What free agents should they target this offseason?
It should be an interesting offseason to see what is available on the market and exactly what the team is willing to surrender to solidify the starting staff moving forward.