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Yesterday’s flurry of transactions ended an era of Blue Jays baseball: when Devon Travis was outrighted and removed from the 40-man roster, the last link to Hall of Famer Roy Halladay was broken.

Prior to the moves, Travis was connected to Halladay in a rare linear chain of trades: Travis was acquired in a trade with the Tigers for Anthony Gose, who was acquired from the Astros for Brett Wallace, who was traded from the Athletics for Michael Taylor on the same day that Taylor was moved to the Jays from the Phillies as part of the haul for Halladay.

The Toronto Blue Jays Roster Tree Route Map at the end of the 2019 regular season. Minor Leaguer
On the Toronto Blue Jays Roster Tree Route Map, the TRAVIS (Pink) Line operated a route to Halladay serving the intermediary stops at Gose, Wallace, and Taylor. However, the line has experienced severe service disruptions the past few years and was completely out of commission for 2019.

It was somewhat of a sad move to remove the Pink Line to Halladay, which had existed since the very first Roster Tree Route Map here. It wasn’t much of a surprise; I was dreading making that deletion ever since Travis’s injury.

Beyond this frivolity, I am genuinely sad that Devon Travis could leave the Blue Jays organization—he was outrighted, but has enough service time to elect free agency—as he seems to be one of the good human beings in the game. I have heard of many really thoughtful acts he has done for various people in the Jays organization behind the scenes. He will be missed.

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Unsurprisingly, there’s interest around baseball in one of the Blue Jays’ talented young catchers. If they choose to, they could afford to let one of them go under the right circumstances.
The Blue Jays have a lot of young talent throughout their organization, so it’s no surprise that rival teams are potentially interested in talking trade at this time of the year.

One of those areas of talent is at catcher, as the Blue Jays have the potential luxury of a catching tandem of Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire that are essentially coming off of their rookie seasons, and both looked more than capable of handling starting duties last season. They both have plenty to prove at the highest level yet, but the future behind the plate looks bright in Toronto.

Not surprisingly, other teams have taken notice of the catching talent north of the border according to mlbtraderumors.com, and might be wondering if the Blue Jays would consider trading from an area of strength in order to address other weaknesses. While there’s an argument that they should hold on to both of their backstops for now, and I made one a little while ago, they could also consider making a trade now if the right offer comes along, and they should be set up to handle the loss of one of the pair.

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The first important variable is that they still have Luke Maile under contract for three more seasons through arbitration control if they choose, and he’s certainly a capable back-up and not a bad guy to pair with a young starter. It’s tough to see how he fits with the Blue Jays going forward if they keep both Jansen and McGuire, so I would expect that one of the trio gets dealt sometime this winter, and it’s possible that Maile could be the guy. He wouldn’t bring back anywhere near the type of return the other two would though, which is why that option is on the table.

There’s also the fact that the Blue Jays have some catching talent still coming in their minor league system including Gabriel Moreno (#8), Alejandro Kirk (#12), and Riley Adams, all on their top 30 prospects list. The Blue Jays could choose to trade from their pool of minor league catching depth, but again, it’s about what the return might be.

At this stage it’s hard to say what other teams might be willing to pay. Jansen is coming off an impressive first full season as a starter, but it certainly came with struggles as well. He rated well as a pitch framer and ended up being nominated for a Gold Glove, but he’ll need to improve on his .207/.279/.360 slash line next season and beyond. McGuire’s sample size was a lot smaller, and while it was impressive to say the least, one could argue that he played over his head down the stretch in 2019.

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With the need for talented and controllable starting pitchers, the only real way I could see the Blue Jays trading Jansen or McGuire is if they can get a worthy starting pitcher back in return. Otherwise, it feels like it’s a little too early to know which one they’ll want to keep, and even if they have their long-term solution just yet. On the other hand, they’re both likeable viewed as quite valuable at the moment, and if the right offer comes along, the Blue Jays can certainly entertain the idea.

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TORONTO — The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame pulled Kelly Gruber from its induction weekend festivities after the former Toronto Blue Jays third baseman made an awkward appearance during a Pitch Talks panel discussion a day earlier.

Gruber was briefly on stage at the Homestand Sports event Thursday night with host Ashley Docking and Rogers Sportsnet broadcaster Kevin Barker in Toronto. In a joint statement Friday, the Hall of Fame and Pitch Talks said the proceedings were stopped 45 minutes early because of Gruber’s “unacceptable and inappropriate behavior.”

“Basically what happened was by the time he got on stage he appeared to be inebriated,” Homestand Sports founder Kevin Kennedy said. “He was just acting sort of obnoxious, kind of erratic, he was confrontational with our host, Ashley, and quite quickly I knew that this wasn’t going in the right direction.”

Gruber was one of several former Blue Jays chosen to participate in various Hall events in the lead-up to Saturday’s ceremony in Ontario, where former major league stars Pedro Martinez and Lloyd Moseby will be inducted along with baseball historian William Humber.

Gruber’s representative, Don Graham, emailed a statement from the former player to The Canadian Press on Friday evening.

“There’s two sides to every story and I would love to tell mine,” Gruber said. “Maybe what I said was taken the wrong way. My intention for being there was to honor my teammate and buddy Lloyd, and the interview part went south for a variety of reasons which I will detail at a later date.”

The 56-year-old Gruber made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1984. He won a World Series with Toronto in 1992 and ended his career with the Angels the following year.

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When I started this list thing, I really thought it would be enjoyable, you know, a walk down memory lane. Well memory lane isn’t so great, especially when it comes to the catcher position. The truth is, Kansas City has been a black hole for catchers. Sure, there’s been a couple of really good catchers, but for a franchise that is 51 years old, you’d think filling out a top five would be easy. Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys. Have them be a catcher because evidently there is a serious shortage of great ones.

I had no idea that Brent Mayne stuck around the bigs for 15 seasons. Buck Martinez and Jamie Quirk hung on for 17 and 18 years respectively. Mayne had 20 career home runs in 15 seasons. Buck Martinez had 15 career home runs in his 17 years. Compare that to Mark Belanger who carved out an 18-year career as a great fielding, no-hit shortstop for the Orioles. Belanger somehow stroked 20 career home runs and was good for 41 WAR, while Mayne, Quirk and Martinez were good for a combined 9 WAR. I know that’s comparing apples to oranges, but I came away amazed at how weak the Royals have been at catcher most years.

Another issue that complicated matters is that three former backstops I considered (Ed Kirkpatrick, Jamie Quirk and John Wathan) also spent considerable time playing other positions for the Royals. I ran over the stats of 11 different catchers and amazingly, those 11 have caught most of all games the Royals have played. Well let’s get to the ugly.

Honorable mention

Ed Kirkpatrick and Jim Sundberg. Sundberg had a fantastic career, good for 41 WAR. The problem was only 2 of his 16 years were spent in Kansas City. He played a huge part of the 1985 Royals winning the World Series. In the playoffs and World Series, he had timely hitting and expertly managed the young pitching staff.

5. John Buck
Buck was drafted by the Houston Astros in the seventh round of the 1998 draft. On June 24, 2004 he was traded to the Royals as part of the infamous three team trade in which Kansas City sent future Hall of Famer Carlos Beltran to Houston in return for Buck, Mark Teahen, Mike Wood and cash. He made his Major League debut the next day at the age of 23.

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Aspiring young baseball player visited to Kamloops this week to learn the tricks of the trade from the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Academy travels across Canada, teaching athletes ages 9-16 techniques used by the professionals. Camps are taught by both Blue Jays alumni and Blue Jays Baseball Academy instructors. This year, the camp brought Homer Bush, Lloyd Moseby, Orlando Hudson and Roberto Alomar to instruct the kids.

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The camp took place July 16-17. Rebecca Scott, team manager for the Salmon Arm Minor Baseball Association, attended along with 12 team members including her son Brady.

“Wednesday they played a whole bunch of games and it was just really fun; they had a fun time and the Blue Jays were goofy,” Scott said.

The players worked through six stations on Tuesday, learning fielding techniques with Moseby and Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar.

Hitting drills were conducted by with Bush and Gold Glove Award-winner Orlando Hudson.

Over the two days, Brady said he learned something new from the pros.

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“When I’m playing second and trying to get a double play, I should lead with my left foot instead of my right,” Scott said.

Kamloops was the Jay’s only stop in the Interior. The next stop for the camp will be in Richmond, B.C. at Latrace Field on July 18-19.

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11 years ago today, April 20, 2008, the Blue Jays released Frank Thomas.

The Jays signed Frank Thomas to a two year deal, plus vesting option for a 3rd year before the 2007 season. Frank had had a really good 2007, hitting .277/.377/.480, with 29 home runs. Then he started 2008 slowly, hitting just .167/.306/.333 in his first 72 at bats. Thomas was a notoriously slow starter for much of his career. As late as June 3rd, 2007, Frank was hitting just .217. After that he went on a roll.

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So when he started slow in 2008, most of us figured he’d get it together at some point, but manager John Gibbons (likely with the input of GM J.P. Ricciardi) decided Frank should sit on the bench. Frank did not react well.

Here is how Hugo put it at the time:

Thomas did not shake hands with his teammates after the game and spoke angrily to reporters, indicating his belief that the decision was based on money, not putting the best team on the field.

Frank figured he was being benched so that he wouldn’t reach the number of at bats needed to vest his option for the next season. He was likely right. They replaced Frank, that night, with Joe Inglett, a nice enough player but not someone that would give you a lot of production.

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Hugo put up a poll, and most BBBers didn’t think releasing Frank was a good move. We were wrong. The A’s picked up Thomas, after his release and he hit .263/.364/.387 for them in 217 at bats. Decent OBA, but he was being paid to drive in runs and his power disappeared. That would be the end of his career.

The Jays saved $10 million for 2009.

The Jays finished 86-76 that year. Matt Stairs was the primary DH, after Frank left, and he wasn’t great, hitting .250/.342/.394.

The season became a bit of a mess, we expected to contend and we didn’t. Gibbons was fired on June 30th, when we had a 35-39 record. Cito Gaston was hired and things got better. The best thing he did was put a young Adam Lind into the lineup, saving us from watching the stylings Brad Wilkerson and Kevin Mench in the outfield.

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We had a 51-37 record under Cito and we had a bit of hope for awhile but we never got closer than 7.5 games from the top of the division and finished 4th, with a 86-76 record. 2009 went worse with us finishing 75-87 (despite scoring 27 more runs than we allowed) and Ricciardi was fired.

Ex-baseball star Frank Thomas – AKA ‘The Big Hurt’ – has teamed up with the producers of a CBD pain cream.

The Major League Baseball Legend and Hall of Famer says he is no stranger to pain having endured six sports-related surgeries.

Thomas partnered with Eco Sciences to develop and release ECODERM that the company claims utilises the healing properties of CBD and other phytocannabinoids to relieve sore muscles.

Frank Thomas in his White Sox heyday
Thomas, who played for the Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays and most notably 16 years with the Chicago White Sox, tested different variations of ECODERM for more than a year.

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He said: “After years of being approached to do endorsement deals, I’m skeptical in ever putting my name on anything unless I have thoroughly tested first.

Millions of Americans suffer daily pain
“To be honest, at first I was completely turned off just by the word ‘CBD’. I have always been a clean athlete, and I associated CBD and hemp with negative connotations.

Beneficial
“But once I met with the team at Eco Sciences and learned that Hemp CBD is a clean product and that hemp extract and CBD contain so many beneficial properties, I was intrigued.”

Eco Sciences says phytocannabinoids, including CBD, contain a multitude of beneficial properties, such as anti-inflammatory and analgesic characteristics.

“So many Americans have misconceived notions about CBD,” said Sam Sugura chief executive officer of Eco Sciences.

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“We are proud to partner with a legendary athlete like Frank to help educate people on how these plant-based properties can actually help them have more productive lives.

“This product is backed by extensive research and testing, and we are excited to see it come to fruition and help people live without the ‘big hurt’ in their daily lives.”

An estimated 50 million Americans deal with chronic pain and soreness daily.

Thomas added: “Being the Big Hurt on the field isn’t the only reason why that name is so relevant.

“My sports injuries have been ongoing all my life and have made it hard to move as I got older.

“Finding Eco Sciences and using all their products for the last couple of years has changed my life.

“Together created a custom product for all my aches and pains and want to share it with the world.”

Numerous sports stars have endorsed CBD as effective non-opioid pain relief.

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I’d like to give a big thank you to Tony Fernandez. I recently had the opportunity to interview possibly the best shortstop in Blue Jays history. He is as great a person as he was a player. Without further ado, here is the interview:
Throughout Blue Jays history, you are known to be one of, if not the best shortstop to ever play for Toronto. How does it feel knowing you had such an impact, and that the fans and team recognize that?

First of all it’s always good to be recognized, first of all by your peers and if you are recognized by the fans, that’s even better. Unfortunately there are many athletes and great ballplayers that put up great numbers but they don’t get the recognition that they deserve. I don’t know that if I played in the States that it would be different, but I’m glad I played my career here.

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You played for Toronto in the 80’s for the most part. What was Blue Jays baseball like in that time period?

Well baseball in the 80’s was huge. That was about the time Canada started to follow along with baseball, and you couldn’t go anywhere without people talking about baseball. I know that this is a hockey town, and a hockey country, but I think Canada fell in love with baseball. Especially in the 80’s. When I see people around when we come to Canada they say, “Oh the good old days,” but of course the times changed. The world is evolving and so is baseball. I think the 80’s were the best days as far as I’m concerned. Although we won in 1993, I know the Jays won in 92′ and the teams we played with in the 80’s were as good as they were in 92′ and 93′.

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Do you think they are as good now as they were back then?

Well it’s a different era. It’s hard to judge. They take so many more things into consideration now than they did back then. So it’s tough to make that comparison. I think everyone has that gift. Every team is great. In the 80’s, we were as good as anybody, and in the 90’s even better! I mean we won the World Series. How many times do you get to make the playoffs? So how do you judge a good team? That’s up to you. The 80’s and 90’s had different standards, and I’m sure that every decade they had different standards. You have to recognize and give credit to each team during their era.

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In 1990 you were traded to San Diego, and in return Toronto got Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar. How did you feel then when you were sent away, and now looking back on it?

Meh. As a professional baseball player and as a professional athlete, you accept the good and the bad. You’re never prepared. You think you are prepared for change but it’s always surprising. Especially when you lose the fans. I fell in love with the fans in Toronto, my children were born here. It’s always tough regardless. We all knew that we needed a change. At least I was able to come back and win.

Jose Bautista turns 39 today.

The last 11 years or so would have been so much different without him. He gave us so many great moments over the years. None better than than the home run and bat flip in game 5, but many many other great moments.

When we traded for him, back in August of 2008, the trade didn’t even merit a post on our site. It turned out to be the best trade of JP Ricciardi’s time as manager and it didn’t get it’s own post. He played in 6 games before getting his first hit as a Jay, and people weren’t exactly thrilled with him. He hit has first home run on September 2nd.

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In total he hit 288 home runs, as a Blue Jay, number 2 on our franchise list, 48 behind Carlos Delgado. He’s also 2nd on the list for bWAR among batters, at 37.3, just behind Tony Fernandez (37.5). He’s also 7th on the team list in OBP (.372), 5th in slugging (.506), 2nd in runs scored (790, trailing Delgado again by 99), 3rd in RBI (766, behind Vernon Wells and Delgado) and 2nd in walks (803, 24 behind Carlos) and 5th in games played (1235).

Beyond that, he was the face of the Blue Jays for several years. And he gave the team a personality. We quickly became a team that played with a bit of an edge or swagger. A team that other team’s fans didn’t like. As Reggie Jackson said ‘they don’t boo nobodies’.

Jose was intense, which isn’t a strong enough word. He wanted to win very badly. Sometimes his ‘intenseness’ rubbed people the wrong way. I honestly never thought I’d see a player that would match him for intensity, then we got Josh Donaldson, who seems his twin in that way. I remember the times when Jose, quietly, stepped in between Josh and umpires when, it seemed like Donaldson was about to get himself thrown out of a game and thought Jose could have used someone doing that for him in the past.

I kind of like guys who really really want to win, though I’ll admit, I do like it when Jose showed us his sense of humor.

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There were people complaining that Jose wasn’t a leader or a good teammate. And, of course, it always came from people who were a long way away from the team. He seemed to do the quiet things that showed how good a teammate he was. Standing up for Devon Travis when Sportsnet, doing a feature of having Hazel Mae pick out a suit for him, and then having Travis pay for it himself. Jose, not making a show of it, refused to talk to Sportsnet until they made things right.

And video of him working with Chris Colabello in the outfield, oh playing the outfield or working with players on their swing seemed to suggest he was a good teammate.

Anyway, Happy Birthday Jose. I hope it is a good one.

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John Olerud 58.2 WAR
Fred McGriff 52.6 WAR
Carols Delgado 44.4 WAR
Jorge Posada 42.8 WAR
Tony Fernandez 45.3 WAR
Don Mattingly 42.4 WAR

Yady Molina 37.8 WAR

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What was that experience like? To be able to come back and win a World Series?

Oh that was great. I feel bad for the other guys. The other players spend their whole careers just to get an opportunity and to come up short. We had the opportunity to win. And fortunately we were able to win at home.

For most of the 90’s you moved around from team to team, but you always came back to Toronto. Would it be fair to say that this is like a second home for you?

We consider Toronto part of our home. I always thank Canadian people for allowing me to be a part of their home. You can say that this is like my home away from home. That doesn’t mean I never tried anywhere else I played. I always did my best wherever I was. I was always reminded by the circumstances, the media, the fans, that I was an athlete. I owed it to the organization I was playing for to give it my all, and I have peace with it.

As well as having a great bat, you were fantastic in the field. In 89′ for fielding percentage by a shortstop, were you aware you broke the record?

No. I know the media is more aware of things than we are. I know that I held the fielding record, but I didn’t need the recognition. I won the Gold Glove but I’m glad to hear that it lasted 10 years. I think, someone in the Dominican Republic mentioned it to me but I wasn’t sure. It wasn’t coming out of the United States or Canada so I didn’t know. But I’m glad to hear that again.

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Toronto hasn’t really had a franchise shortstop since you’ve played. There’s one coming up by the name of Bo Bichette. I don’t know if you were aware of this but what is your reaction?

I’ve been out of baseball a while so I wouldn’t know. Bichette? Is that Dante’s kid? That’s crazy.

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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

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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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I’m reposting this story by masterkembo because it was a great look at what the Jays did in the Expansion Draft all those years ago.

43 Years Ago

The 1976 expansion draft, in which the Toronto Blue Jays organization secured the services of 30 players over a 7 hour period, 24 of whom would don the Blue Jays uniform during its inaugural 1977 season. I thought it would be interesting to take a little trip down memory lane. Overall, the expansion draft was a success for the Jays, despite the team losing over 100 games in 1977 as several key players were selected.

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The first pick of the expansion draft saw the Seattle Mariners select outfielder Ruppert Jones who was inexplicably left unprotected by the Kansas City Royals, despite being called one of the organization’s top three prospects by manager Whitey Herzog. Jones was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 1973 amateur draft and made his major league debut in 1976 at 21 years of age. Rupe quickly became a fan favourite in Seattle, representing the Mariners in the 1977 all-star game while hitting 24 home runs and playing good CF. Jones had three productive seasons in Seattle, totaling 7.6 fWAR before being traded to the Yankees.

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The second pick of the draft saw the Blue Jays select Baltimore Orioles utility man, the 24 year old Bob Bailor. Bailor played in 122 games for the 1977 Blue Jays and led the team in hits, stolen bases, runs scored and batting average. Bailor played primarily at SS (53 games) and CF (47 games) and was good defensively, getting 10 outfield assists in 1977. He would play for the Jays for four seasons, and while he didn’t have the impact that Ruppert Jones did in Seattle, he did put up a total of 1.3 fWAR for the Jays, including 1.5 fWAR during the 1977 season.

With the 4th overall pick, the Jays selected left handed pitcher Jerry Garvin from the Minnesota Twins. The 21 year old pitched 244.2 IP as a starter for the Jays in 1977 and by the end of April, had 4 wins to his name. He had a 1.9 fWAR and 3.7 bWAR in his rookie season. He also collected 26 pickoffs during the 1977 season, which was an unofficial record at the time. Garvin went on to pitch for the Jays for 6 seasons, accumulating over 606 IP with a 20-41 record, 8 saves and 4.2 fWAR.

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Saunders, a 32-year-old outfielder from Victoria, was an all-star in 2016 with the Toronto Blue Jays. He last played in the majors in 2017.

The roster includes 11 players with major-league experience, including recent Toronto Blue Jays September callup Dalton Pompey of Mississauga, Ont.

Fourteen members of the team helped Canada win silver this summer at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.

Former Blue Jays catcher Ernie Whitt will manage Canada for the 18th time in his career. Former NL MVP Larry Walker, ex-Blue Jay and Montreal Expo Denis Boucher, onetime Blue Jays first base coach Tim Leiper and Baseball Canada director of national teams Greg Hamilton round out the coaching staff.

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Canada is in Group C for the first round with Cuba, Australia and host South Korea. The top two teams in the group advance to Japan for the Super Round.

Canada opens Nov. 6 against Cuba.

The sixth overall pick was Jim Clancy from the Texas Rangers, who was really the star of the draft. Interestingly, Clancy began his Blue Jays career by pitching for the Cleveland Indians AA affiliate (the Jersey City Indians) because the Blue Jays had not yet established minor league affiliates at all levels. Clancy didn’t get off to a great start in Toronto, pitching to a 5.05 ERA and a 4.62 FIP in 13 games in 1977, but he would go onto being one of the stars of the Blue Jays pitching staff for the earlier years of the organization, pitching over 2200 innings while appearing in 352 games (345 starts) and accumulating 27.9 fWAR and 30.8 bWAR for the Blue Jays between 1977 and 1988. Unfortunately for Clancy, he was injured and only pitched in one inning during the 1985 ALCS and was granted free agency prior to the 1989 season.

The other incredibly successful player that the Jays managed to nab in the expansion draft was Ernie Whitt, who was selected 34th overall from Boston. Whitt debuted in 1976, but with his path to the majors blocked by Carlton Fisk, the Red Sox left him unprotected. He only appeared in 25 games over his first three years in the Jays organization but in 1980, he made the team as a starter and he never looked back. Whitt would go on to catch for parts of 12 seasons with the Jays, accumulating 21.8 fWAR over that time with league average offense (including 131 HR with the Jays). Whitt was the primary catcher for the Jays during the 1985 and 1989 playoff years, and is probably the best catcher in team history. He was also the last player from the 1977 team to play for the Jays.

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Other notable players selected by the Jays included:

Rico Carty (10th overall): was later traded back to the Cleveland but went on to play 2 years for the Jays afterward, accumulating 1.7 fWAR
Al Fitzmorris (13th pick): who was traded to the Cleveland the day of the draft for former Jays announcer, Alan Ashby, who had a pretty good career behind the plate.
Al Woods (14th overall): who put up 1.9 fWAR over 6 years
Pete Vuckovich (19th): Vuckovich pitched in 53 games in 1977, including 8 starts and accumulated 2.2 fWAR and 2.9 rWAR. He threw the first shutout for the Jays and recorded the first save for the team. After the 1977 season, the Jays traded Vuckovich to the Cardinals for Victor Cruz and Tom Underwood. Vuckovich went on to have 5 very good seasons for the Cardinals and then the Brewers, including a Cy Young in 1982.
Doug Ault (32nd): Doug Ault famously hit 2 HR in the first game for the Jays, and had a decent season for the Jays in 1977.
Garth Iorg (41st): Iorg would play 9 seasons for the Jays between 1978 and 1987, mostly as a utility / platoon player. His best season came in 1985 where he put up a 122 wRC+ (compared to his career wRC+ of 71) and 1.9 fWAR
Dave Lemanczyk (43rd): Dave played parts of 4 seasons for the Jays and accumulated 6.0 fWAR for the Jays. He went 13-16 in 34 starts in 1977 while only striking out 3.75K/9.
Otto Velez (53rd): Otto played 6 seasons for the Jays and played mostly outfield and DH. Velez was terrible defensively, but put up some decent offensive numbers for the Jays, including 5 years of 120 or higher wRC+ while accumulating a total of 9.5 fWAR