Category Archives: Toronto Blue Jays Shirts

Jimmy Key Jersey

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With the exciting pennant races of 1985 a fresh memory, the Royals traveled to Toronto for the American League Championship Series. The 1985 season marked the first year that the Championship Series went to a best-of-seven format. The Blue Jays, who started as an expansion team in 1977, won their first American League East crown by holding off the New York Yankees by two games. For the Royals, their West division title marked their seventh playoff appearance in the past ten seasons.

Conventional wisdom would seem to favor the veteran Royals, but this was a tough Blue Jays team. The Jays featured young stars Tony Fernandez, George Bell, Lloyd Moseby and Jesse Barfield along with ace pitchers Dave Steib, Jimmy Key and hard throwing closer Tom Henke. The Jays also had their share of former Royals – Rance Mulliniks, Buck Martinez, Willie Aikens and a 21-year-old first baseman by the name of Cecil Fielder. The series also featured the Iorg brothers – Garth for Toronto and Dane for Kansas City.

Vegas installed the Jays as the favorites in the series. The Blue Jays had homefield advantage, if you can call it that. Their home was Exhibition Stadium, a facility that had been built for the CFL Toronto Argonauts. Jays President Paul Beeston once called Exhibition “not just the worst stadium in baseball, it was the worst stadium in sports.”

They tried calling it “The mistake by the lake” but that name was already taken by Cleveland. The stadium sat near Lake Ontario and the weather was often cold at the beginning and end of the baseball season. In the Jays first game ever, on April 7, 1977, they had to borrow a Zamboni from the Toronto Maple Leafs to clear the field of snow. The main seating area was a bowl reconstructed from two grandstands that ran the length of the third and first base lines and was open to the elements. A huge covered grandstand ran the length of left field and extended well past center field. There were no seats in right field, just a fence and a whole lotta space. It was, and remains, one of the strangest baseball fields I’ve ever seen. Calling the first two games for NBC were former Yankee great Tony Kubek and a young Bob Costas.

Game One

The game was played October 8th in Toronto. The Blue Jays started their ace, Dave Steib. Steib only went 14-13 in 1985 but made the All-Star team and led the American League in ERA with a 2.48 mark. Kansas City countered with lefty Charlie Leibrandt, who had posted a sterling 17-9 record in his second season with the club. The Jays wasted little time, jumping on Leibrandt for six runs in the first four innings. The Royals finally got on the board in the ninth when Willie Wilson scored on a ground out by Pat Sheridan.


Here are your 1985 Kansas City Royals
The six runs were more than enough as Steib held the Royals to three hits in eight innings of work and Tom Henke, who looked more like a high school science teacher than one of the best closers in the game, worked around two singles in the ninth to preserve the win and give the Blue Jays a 1-0 series lead. Leibrandt gave up five runs in two innings of work before Dick Howser went to Steve Farr. Mark Gubicza and Danny Jackson for the final four innings. The odd pitching rotation highlighted a serious lack of depth in the Kansas City staff. Howser basically had five decent starters and Dan Quisenberry. Steve Farr, who had only thrown 37 innings in the regular season, emerged late in the year to give Howser a little more depth.

Game Two

Played Wednesday afternoon, October 9th with a 3:00 ET start time, the Jays started their number two-man, Jimmy Key. The Royals countered with Bud Black. Key had gone 14-6 in the regular season, while Black had an off year, finishing 10-15. Key and Black, both lefties, were nearly mirror images of each other, the only difference being Key often threw from a three-quarter arm slot while Black came over the top. The Royals struck first when Buddy Biancalana led off the third with a single to center.

With one out, Willie Wilson fouled off the first two pitches from Key. Key challenged him on the third pitch and Willie deposited it into the left field stands. Wilson had only hit four home runs during the regular season. The Royals increased their lead in the fourth when Daryl Motley walked and scored on a double by Jim Sundberg. Rain interrupted the proceedings in the fifth with the score 3-1 Kansas City. When play resumed, Black lost his rhythm. He hit Bell with a pitch and after a Cliff Johnson single, uncorked a wild pitch. Barfield then punched a single to center to score both runners.

Manager Dick Howser went to his closer, Dan Quisenberry, to start the eighth. Lloyd Moseby singled, stole second, advanced to third when Sundberg’s throw got by Frank White and score the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by George Bell. The Jays were only three outs from taking a two-game lead and with Henke on the mound, it looked bleak. Pat Sheridan, pinch-hitting for Daryl Motley, said no problem and wrapped a lead-off home run around the flagpole in right to stun the Toronto crowd.

Quisenberry worked around a two-out Mulliniks single to retire the Jays in the ninth. Kansas City took the lead in the 10th, when Wilson singled, then with one-out, stole second. With two outs, Frank White stroked a sinking liner to center. Moseby charged and appeared to have made a shoestring catch. Left field umpire Derryl Cousins didn’t see it that way and ruled that Moseby had trapped the ball, which allowed the fleet Wilson to easily score. Manager Bobby Cox argued vociferously, but to no avail. In those prehistoric days, there was no replay and even today, the YouTube video of the play is too difficult to make a solid ruling.

Howser sent Quisenberry out for the tenth and Tony Fernandez led off with a high chopper to Onix Concepcion. Concepcion fielded the ball cleanly, had the ball in his throwing hand, then for some mysterious reason double clutched, allowing Fernandez to beat the throw. It was ruled a hit but should have been an error on Concepcion. The error/hit proved costly as Fernandez moved to second on a ground out before a Moseby single to right drove him home with the tying run. Fernandez ran through third base coach Jimy Williams stop sign and easily beat Sheridan’s throw to the plate.

Quisenberry then tried to pick off Moseby but first baseman Steve Balboni forgot to catch the ball, allowing Moseby to take second. That brought Al Oliver to the plate. Oliver was a professional hitter in the last year of a brilliant 18-year career which saw him accumulate 2,743 hits and almost 44 WAR. With two strikes, Oliver went the other way, slipping a grounder to left to easily score Moseby with the game winner. The Royals committed three costly errors in the game, four if you count the freebie given to Concepcion, and it cost them the game.

Game Three

Game Three moved to Kansas City, a Friday night game with announced attendance of 40,224. The Royals started 20-game winner Bret Saberhagen while the Jays countered with Doyle Alexander, who had a fine 17-10 season. For the season, Saberhagen had recorded 158 strikeouts and only issued 38 walks. Game Three quickly became the George Brett show. Brett had worked out hard over the winter looking to avoid the injuries that had plagued him since his seminal 1980 season. Looking at that 1980 season, .390/.454/.664, where does a player go from there?

With one out, Willie Wilson singled to center. Wilson attempted to steal second and was called out. The replay clearly shows his slide beat the tag by Tony Fernandez but second base umpire Vic Voltaggio’s view was blocked by Fernandez and since replay didn’t exist yet, Wilson took a seat. Naturally, Brett drove the next pitch about ten rows deep to right to give the Royals a quick 1-0 lead.

It stayed that way until the fourth, when Brett narrowly missed another home run, as his lead off drive bounced high off the right field wall for a double. He advanced to third on a fly out by Hal McRae and came home on another fly out by Frank White.

The wheels came off for Saberhagen in the fifth. The inning went single, home run, fly out, double, single off Saberhagen’s leg and finally another home run, this one off the bat of former Royal Rance Mulliniks. Howser brought on game two starter Bud Black to put out the fire. 5-2 Toronto. Steve Balboni led off the Royals half of the fifth with a hard liner to left, but George Bell made a terrific running catch to rob Balboni of extra bases. Jim Sundberg picked his teammate up with a home run that barely cleared the left field wall. 5-3 Toronto. In the bottom of the sixth, Wilson led off with a sharp single over the glove of Alexander, bringing up Brett. Brett took a ball, then took a violent cut at a ball which he fouled off. On Alexander’s third pitch, Brett drove the ball deep over the left-center wall, up onto the grass to tie the score. The fans gave him a well-deserved standing ovation, getting a curtain call from Brett. Many believe Alex Gordon’s home run in the 2015 World Series was the biggest in Royals history, but this Brett shot was right up there. If the Royals lose this game, they go down three games to none and have to face Dave Steib. Game three was a must win for Kansas City and their star delivered. Again.

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Gruber was a Rule 5 pick up from the Rangers in 1983. Since we didn’t have 7 or 8 man bullpens back then, a Rule 5 pick could be hidden on the bench, you really didn’t gave to use the full 25-man roster back then. Gruber had all of 16 at bats in 1984, while staying on the roster all season.. It took until 1986 until he played much, playing in 87 games mostly as a defensive replacement. 1987 was the first season he had a real role on the team, taking Garth Iorg’s spot as the right-handed half of the third base platoon with Rance Mulliniks. He didn’t do well, hitting.235/.283/.399.

In 1988 he took over the full time third base job, when Rance became DH. Kelly was much better, hitting 278/.328/.438, with 16 home runs, 81 RBI and 23 stolen bases. 1989 was our first playoff season and Gruber was a large part of success despite a couple of trips to the DL (shades of things to come). Kelly got selected to the All-Star team and hit .290/.328/.448 with 18 homers and 73 RBI. Even his defense improved as he showed a bit more range. And on April 16th he became the first Jay to hit for the cycle. Gruber hit well in our 5 game lost to Oakland in the ALCS, with a .294 average

1990 was Gruber’s best season by far, with 31 home runs and 118 RBI, hitting .274/.330/.512 for a OPS+ of 127. He had career highs in at bats, runs, doubles, triples, homers, RBI. He won the Gold Glove, Silver Slugger award for best offensive third baseman and made the All-Star game, taking a walk and stealing 2 bases in two plate appearances. He also was 4th in the MVP vote. He was 6th in the AL in slugging average, 2nd in total bases and 2nd in RBI.

After that he had a couple of injury filled seasons, but he picked up a World Series ring and was part of what should have been a triple play:

After 1992 Kelly was traded to the Angels. He only played 18 games for the Angels, then injuries forced him out of the game. In total he played 10 seasons, hit .259/.307/.432 with 117 home runs. He also was a very good defensive third baseman. Kelly was blond and good looking and seemed like a fun guy, he was a fan favorite.

Josh Towers turns 42 today.

Towers pitched for us for 5 seasons, winning 37 and losing 42 from 2003 to 2007. His best season was 2005 when he went 13-12 with a 3.71 ERA in 33 starts. Unfortunately the next year wasn’t quite as good, 2-10 with a 8.42 ERA. Towers, even at the best of times, gave up a lot of hits, and a good number of home runs as well, but he kept the walks down and made guys hit their way on base. In 2009 he had a couple of appearances for the Yankees. He was your basic soft thrower, throws strikes, gets hit a lot but didn’t walk anyone.

Mark DeRosa turns 43 today.

Mark played for us in 2013, the last season of his 16 year career. He was brought in to ‘fix the clubhouse chemistry’ and help Brett Lawrie mature. We went several seasons where we seemed to bring someone in to fix the clubhouse every year. I’m not a fan of bringing someone in thinking he’s going to fix the chemistry, unless, of course, he is also a good player. Mark hit .235/.326/.407 for us, not all that bad, in 88 games. He played more than we would have liked. but wasn’t terrible.

In his career he hit .268/.340/.412 with 100 home runs in 1241 games.

And Richard Urena turns 23 today.

We have been talking about him for so long I keep thinking he is older. I was hoping he would get a shot at being a utility guy this year, but when they signed Galvis, that hope disappeared. It would be nice if he got a real shot at a major league job, but it doesn’t seem to be happening.

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After a successful but brief stint in late 2018, Rowdy Tellez returned to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2019, where he experienced the highs and lows of a full year in Major League Baseball.
In 2018, Rowdy Tellez was called up to the Toronto Blue Jays during the September roster expansion, and he took advantage of the small window of opportunity.

No stranger to adversity with his mother’s passing to cancer just weeks before his MLB debut, Tellez would absolutely rake in his first taste in the MLB. In 23 games, he would slash .314/.329/.614 with four home runs, 14 RBI’s, and nine doubles, with his extra-base hits breaking two MLB records in the process.

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It was quite the introduction to the big leagues.

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Rowdy Tellez is the first player in the live-ball era with 4+ XBH in his first 5 career plate appearances. He is also the second player in the live-ball era with 4+ doubles in his first two games – Oakland’s Ben Grieve had four in 1997 (courtesy STATS).

9:58 AM – Sep 7, 2018
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In 2019, Rowdy Tellez was on the bubble to make the squad for opening day, but veterans Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak were in his way. Fortunately for Tellez, Morales would be dealt to the Oakland Athletics just before opening day, creating room for the 1st baseman on the 25-man roster.

For the rest of the season, the power-hitting first baseman/designated hitter would slash .227/.293/.449 in 111 games. He would smash 21 home runs while also gathering 54 RBI’s, 29 walks, and 19 doubles, along with 116 strikeouts.

Tellez would split time between the 1B and DH position with Justin Smoak for most of the regular season. In mid July, the Toronto Blue Jays would send Rowdy back down to the AAA Buffalo Bisons, a month long assignment on the heels of a stretch where he was sitting consistently between a .210 and .230 AVG while striking out at-least once a game (minimum).

The demotion would only prove to be a confident boost for the left-handed hitter, as Tellez would destroy the competition on the way to a ridiculous .366/.450/.688 with seven home runs and 21 RBI’s in just 26 games.

He would return to the Blue Jays on August 14th and would continue to play at a consistent level similar to before his demotion, not wavering from his eventual season-ending slash line over the next month and a half.

While 2019 did see Rowdy Tellez improve in some areas, the jury still seems to be out as to whether the power hitter will be the first baseman/designated hitter of the future Blue Jays core.

On one hand, Tellez possesses natural power in his swing that you don’t naturally see with just any regular baseball player. He has the ability to take pitches out of the zone and find a way to put them in play, sometimes even over the fence or into the gap for an extra base hit. When he was able to put the ball in play, 48% of hits would be for extra bases, a stat that really benefit the Blue Jays this season.


“It’s pretty special,” Rowdy Tellez said of becoming just the fourth rookie in @BlueJays history to hit 20 home runs.

“It’s one of those things that a lot of people dream of that’s hard to do. I couldn’t be more grateful.”

(Via @bnicholsonsmith) …

Little on the line for Orioles, Blue Jays, but plenty at stake for players
Long after the possibility of a collective accomplishment disappears, these games still matter on an individual level. Roles, roster spots and reputations are still at stake, after all.
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Rowdy also found a way to improve midseason against left-handed pitchers, with first glimpses being an awkward exchange where it appeared that he was outmatched most of the time. This led to Tellez being pitch hit for when lefties were brought into the game in the later innings.

He would improve his game against lefties as the season wore on, and by the end of September, Tellez was able to put the ball in play for a .270 AVG with 6 home runs and 23 RBI’s in 115 at-bats

On the other hand, Rowdy Tellez does strike out quite often with 28.4% of his at-bats in 2019 ending in this result. This is kind of normal for ‘power hitting’ types like Tellez, but unfortunately can be a trend that teams may be looking to avoid. With it being his official rookie season and first real taste of a full season in the MLB, he will need to improve this statistic or at least try to stay par for the course considering opposing teams will have more video to develop a plan against Tellez with the more at-bats he takes.

Tellez is also an average fielder, which isn’t the worst thing in the world considering he could be a prime candidate for the DH position moving forward. His fielding percentage is indeed solid at .996%, but it’s his abilities to save teammate throwing errors or pick balls in the dirt is something that needs to be worked on.

To be fair, the Blue Jays did have an exceptional fielding first baseman in Justin Smoak (gold glove nominated again), and fans have been a bit spoiled with tough plays being made to look routine.

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Some small improvements both in the batters box and on the field could see an increase in reps for the power hitter, but there is the potential for increased competition both internally and externally (via trade or free agency).

Other prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays organization are looking for playing time on the active roster, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the organization starts giving some other prospects some playing time on the right side of the diamond (coughVladdycough). There also is the potential that Smoak does return to the Blue Jays if the deal is right, re-creating the platoon that was featured through the 2019 campaign.

The 2020 season will be the callback audition in trying to find a role for Rowdy Tellez in the Toronto Blue Jays rebuild musical (off-Broadway). While fans can debate back and forth whether to put their faith in the California native, the rebuilding years will be a proving ground for prospects like Tellez, so fans will definitely be seeing Rowdy and other prospects over the next few years.

NEXT: Anthony Alford and his biggest opportunity yet
Whether he remains with the squad after the rebuild depends on how he can progress and improve his slash line and/or his defensive ability moving forward, with the ultimate goal to be convincing the Blue Jays brass he deserves a spot on the roster.

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Four Years Ago Today

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

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

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From the recap:

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

Second inning: Kevin Pillar hits a solo homer.

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

One more run in the seventh got us to 8.

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

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

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

Jesse Barfield was one of my favorite players.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gibby’s stated reasoning:

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

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

I wrote more about it:

The reasons to bring in Price yesterday:

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

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

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

But Grant Brisbee put it better:

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

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

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

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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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Last year, then-closer for the Blue Jays Roberto Osuna was arrested in Toronto on an assault charge. He allegedly assaulted the mother of his then three-year-old son. The charge was eventually withdrawn in exchange for a peace bond, but Major League Baseball still suspended Osuna for 75 games without pay.

Due to the off-the-field ugliness, the Astros were able to acquire Osuna on the relative cheap, sending Ken Giles, David Paulino, and Hector Perez to the Blue Jays. Osuna has been mostly great for the Astros since the trade, finishing the 2018 season with 12 saves, a 1.99 ERA, and a 19/3 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings in his new uniform. This year, Osuna racked up an American League-high 38 saves with a 2.63 ERA and a 73/12 K/BB ratio in 65 innings.

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With the Astros holding a 4-2 lead in the top of the ninth in ALCS Game 6 against the Yankees, manager A.J. Hinch called on Osuna to get the final three outs to send his team to the World Series. He ended up allowing a leadoff single to Gio Urshela, then a game-tying two-run home run to DJ LeMahieu. Nevertheless, the Astros won it in the bottom of the ninth thanks to José Altuve’s walk-off two-run homer off of Aroldis Chapman.

In the postgame celebration, Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated reports that Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman yelled towards a group of three female reporters, “Thank god we got Osuna! I’m so … glad we got Osuna!” Taubman repeated the phrase half a dozen times. One of the reporters was wearing a purple domestic violence awareness bracelet.

The trade market offers a secondary path forward, and in both cases the Blue Jays appear intent on moving past the bounce-back, value-reclamation types they locked in on the previous two winters.

That they’re not ruling out Wheeler and Odorizzi – whom manager Charlie Montoyo knows from the Tampa Bay Rays – is interesting, as surrendering draft pick compensation had been a non-starter for them in years past.

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Should the Blue Jays sign a qualified free agent, they would lose their second-highest selection in the upcoming draft as well as $500,000 from their international bonus pool. On the draft end, that means forfeiting a pick in the mid-40s overall along with the roughly $1.6 million in bonus pool room (based on 2019 slots) that comes with it – a steep but not prohibitive cost.

Either way, the Blue Jays have the spending power this winter to add multiple players who can make an impact.

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A home run off-season for the Blue Jays would include two starters that would make Shoemaker a three, Anderson a four, with one of incumbents Ryan Borucki and Trent Thornton competing for five.

In that scenario, young arms like Nate Pearson, T.J. Zeuch, Anthony Kay, Jacob Waguespack, Thomas Pannone, Sean Reid-Foley, Patrick Murphy, Hector Perez and Yennsy Diaz are all pushing upwards from triple-A Buffalo and double-A New Hampshire, offering the type of near-term depth so lacking in recent years.

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Should Pearson, as expected, and others force their way upward, the Blue Jays would then have surplus to trade ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, replenishing assets for the farm system.

Given how poor their pitching was in 2019 – remember how they sifted through 39 pitchers, including position players Luke Maile and Richard Urena, last summer? – such a scenario would present a massive leap forward.

Top that off with a couple of position players to bolster the kids, and the Blue Jays suddenly become a pretty interesting club.

Interesting enough to contend? Probably not, but enough to make a .500 season seem attainable, with bolder strikes that propel them into legit contention coming ahead of 2021.

Again, talking is easy. Doing is hard. Just like the grind of 162 games often lays the best-laid plans to waste, the winter’s churn does the same to the most carefully crafted spending scenarios.

But indications, at least to this point, are that the Blue Jays are trying in a way they haven’t the past few winters. That’s a start.

The Astros declined to comment on the issue and did not make Taubman available for an interview. That shouldn’t come as a shock because the Astros have organizationally failed repeatedly to meaningfully address Osuna’s behavior. GM Jeff Luhnow released a poorly thought out statement last July about Osuna, claiming that the Astros’ due diligence was “unprecedented,” and citing that Osuna is “remorseful” and “willingly complied with all consequences,” despite pleading not guilty and not having had his day in court yet, thus no consequences. The Astros released another statement in August defending their belief that “Roberto deserved a second chance.”

Later that month, Osuna went after his critics, saying, “Everybody is judging me for things they don’t know. I don’t like that.” In the postseason, teammate Ryan Pressly defended Osuna from a heckler, telling the fan, “You can talk all the sh– you want. Just don’t bring that stuff up.”

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The Astros also kicked out a fan who protested Osuna’s presence by holding up a sign displaying a domestic violence hotline number. After receiving plenty of criticism for that, the Astros decided to display flyers, featuring the National Domestic Violence Hotline number, in women’s restrooms at Minute Maid Park.

Taubman’s behavior is not the first strike for the Astros on this issue. Acquiring Osuna was strike one. Luhnow’s statement and the club’s subsequent statement were strikes two and three. Osuna’s backlash was strike four, Pressly’s defense of him was strike five, and the whole issue over the DV hotline sign was strike six. The Astros are in danger of having the side strike out on this issue.

It’s also worth mentioning that Luhnow worked for McKinsey and Company, a management consulting firm, before getting into baseball. McKinsey has been consulting for the Astros since 2017, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported in July. McKinsey has, ahem, a checkered past.

The Astros have clearly and intentionally thrown ethics to the side in order to run a baseball-related business. That they have repeatedly mishandled a very serious domestic violence issue within the sport shouldn’t come as a surprise, and it shouldn’t be surprising that the Astros are hoping the issue goes away with the World Series set to begin on Tuesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lloyd’s place on the Jays franchise leader boards:

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

Tom Steepe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Toronto Blue Jays will enter the 2020 season with multiple internal options to who will occupy center field as well as the bench outfielder spots.
Over the past three seasons, Anthony Alford has always been a bridesmaid, but never a bride when it comes to making the Toronto Blue Jays roster full time.

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Drafted in the 3rd round of 2012 Amateur Draft, the University of Mississippi alum made his first Major League appearance in 2017 and has had a few cups of coffee on the active roster over the past few years.

Alford’s MLB career slash line is not a pretty sight at .145/.203/.218, with just 8 hits, 1 home run, and 23 strikeouts. Most of his experience comes during the roster expansion in September, with the number of games he has played in increasing each year since 2017.

The 2019 season was a bit of wasted opportunity for Alford, but depending on who you ask, this can be attributed to maybe more than just his own performance.

Out of the 16 games he played in last season (1 in April, 15 in September), Alford only played in a complete game on two occasions, either being brought into games in the 5-6th inning or being taken out of the game midway through.

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It would have been nice to see Anthony Alford get a bigger opportunity to contribute through more complete games in the September months, considering the Toronto Blue Jays are in full rebuild mode and giving players like Alford more opportunities would be beneficial to figure out the future core of the team. More swings at the plate and an allowing Alford a routine day in, day out may have made him a better player.

On the flip side, one could also argue that his 2019 slash line of .179/.233/.286 was an opportunity wasted by none other than himself, where he couldn’t prove to be brought into the lineup because he just couldn’t produce.

He only walked once, only smacked 5 hits in 28 at-bats, and only drove in 1 run, which is most likely why he was brought later into the game versus starting and finishing games. Prospects have to take every opportunity they are given to produce, and Alford just couldn’t find a way to get on base or bring guys home.

In 2020, Anthony Alford will be in an awkward position where he will be officially out of minor league options and still have his rookie status still intact.

The reason behind this scenario can be attributed to the brief call-ups over the past three years slowly chipping away at all three of his options. If demoted to the minors, Alford will have to be exposed through outright waivers to every MLB team, where he may be picked up by another squad.

Current center fielder Teoscar Hernandez has not shown he can be a viable option as an everyday outfielder, with his inconsistency of putting the ball in play and his awkward routes to fly balls in the outfield. While this may prove to be one of Alford’s biggest opportunities yet, there are other prospects also looking to capitalize on open roster spots.

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Billy McKinney, Derek Fisher, and Johnathon Davis are internal options looking to find space on the 2020 Blue Jays roster, with Fisher on the same boat as Alford in that he too is out of options.

Each of these players could very well find themselves on the 26 man roster come opening day if they have a strong spring, but McKinney and Davis do have options remaining, meaning they are a bit more flexible because of their added control. Hernandez also has a minor league option, which could be exercised if he performs poorly out of the gate in spring training or regular season regardless if he is starting or not to begin the year.

If you’re an optimist, you can also throw Dalton Pompey into the outfielder mix, but considering he’s not on the 40 man roster and has had a slew of injuries, his path to the big leagues is incredibly against him.

If you’re a real optimist, throw in Socrates Brito, who was horrendous in 2019 for the Toronto Blue Jays but would absolutely crush in AAA with the Buffalo Bisons, earning the team’s MVP award. If you’re a fan of the comeback player, throw some money on Brito.

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Many of the Toronto Blue Jays’ holes have arisen from a lack of options. That’s not the case with the outfield where the club has plenty of bodies, but very few answers. If they were to wade into free agency, it would be in search of stability and perhaps an admission that guys like Teoscar Hernandez, Derek Fisher, Billy McKinney, and Anthony Alford aren’t starting options in the immediate future — or in all likelihood, ever.

That seems harsh, but it isn’t completely unjustifiable given the fact that cohort is full of players who have been unable to establish themselves at the MLB level and aren’t young enough that it’s fair to project much development from here. Alford might be something of an exception to that statement given his unusual development path, but if the Blue Jays decided no one they have in-house is ready to be a full-time complement to Randal Grichuk and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. that would be understandable.

Here are a few guys they might look at to brin

Throw in the added scenario that the Blue Jays could go out and find an outfielder via free agency or trade this offseason, and Alford’s opportunity of trying to make the team as a starter turns more into a battle with the other internal options for bench space.

Alford’s chances of making the team grow more with the added roster spot during the regular season (26 man roster starting next season), but he will lose the possible September call up window with the new regulations regarding a max of 28 players on the active roster instead of the previous 40.

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Everybody loves Anthony Alford.

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In conclusion, I don’t see Anthony Alford making the team out of spring training unless he goes out and earns a bench spot over Billy McKinney.

I truly think the Blue Jays will go out and grab another established outfielder this offseason, and this will create a fight for the 2-3 outfield bench spots on the roster (depending on how the Blue Jays choose to divide their bench).

Derek Fisher will most likely find himself on the roster, as Atkins won’t want to be embarrassed about possibly losing Fisher to waivers in which he was the only player he received in the Aaron Sanchez trade with the Houston Astros this past season.

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I also think Teoscar Hernandez will take a spot on the bench, with the potential to send him down the minors because of his remaining option. My reasoning behind this is his use as a potential DH, but also because Hernandez sometimes finds a way to go on crazy hot streaks where he just smacks home runs.

For the last spot, it will be a battle between McKinney and Alford, with the winner winning the last final spot on the bench.

With McKinney, you have a player with more MLB experience but hasn’t proven to be enough of a contributing player to keep his spot on the active roster.

With Alford, you have an athlete who just hasn’t panned out like the scouts thought he would, but has his back against the wall and is looking to finally be the bride instead of the bridesmaid.

Alford does have an advantage in that the Blue Jays brass may not want to expose him to waivers, which would push McKinney back to the minors even if Alford underperforms during spring training.

It depends on how the Blue Jays front office value Anthony over the long run, and if they think he will contribute to the team’s core moving forward if he doesn’t perform well this upcoming spring.

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Next March will be one of the most important months in Alford’s career, in that he needs to prove that he belongs on the big league stage, and the current battle for center field and the outfield bench may just be the last hurrah for one of the Toronto Blue Jays former top prospects.

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The market has all kinds of time to change before the 2020 season gets underway, but the Blue Jays are going to be hard pressed to find an outfield upgrade this off-season.
Any time I discuss the Toronto Blue Jays these days, one of the first topics that comes up is the need for more pitching for next season. Second would likely be how talented and exciting the rookies were this year, but the other frequent topic is the future of the outfield.

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Right now the Blue Jays have a group that includes Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, Derek Fisher, Billy McKinney, and Anthony Alford slated to battle for playing time next season, but of course, the picture could change before opening day rolls around. In fact, that’s often the point of discussion when it comes to the outfield, and specifically that the Jays need to turn some quantity into quality.

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With the Toronto Blue Jays still in the midst of a rebuild, and will be for the foreseeable future, the 2020 season may be one where the organization takes on some bad contracts in order to get ahead.
The Toronto Blue Jays will enter the 2020 regular season with a young squad and lots of financial flexibility. This can mostly attributed to the rebuild, which Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro are currently in the midst of navigating out of.

The purpose of the rebuild is to establish a solid, younger core that the Blue Jays can work with in order to push towards the postseason in next few years. The current squad consists mostly of homegrown, internally developed prospects like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette sprinkled amongst a few veteran players like Randal Grichuk and Ken Giles.

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It is obviously still early to determine the final outcome, but considering the 2019 season some of these prospects had in terms of development and statistics, the initial assessment is looking rather promising.

With that being said, there is always the potential to get better via trade or free agency, and the Toronto Blue Jays find themselves in a financial situation a few teams wish they could be in. They currently don’t have a significant payroll cap hit this season, and do have the financial strength to add to the organization over the next few years.

With this increased flexibility comes a unique situation where the Blue Jays could accept some bad contracts in order to better themselves in the future. A rather weird and unusual situation, but let me explain.

When a player signs a long-term, expensive contract, there is no guarantee that the player will sustain their level of play over the course of that contract. A few good examples of bad contracts include players like Chris Davis with the Baltimore Orioles, and Jacoby Ellsbury on the New York Yankees. With the luxury tax a significant concern for high spending teams like the Yankees, as well as low market teams looking to shed salary to meet ownership concerns, this is where the Blue Jays could find themselves in a situation to benefit.

Since they possess the possibility to accept a few tens of millions worth of bad contracts over the next few rebuilding years, a player with one or two years left on a bad contract could find themselves making their way to Toronto, with some added incentives. You see, in order for teams to get rid of these bad contracts, opposing teams would need to sweeten the deal with a combination of young, talented prospects and/or international bonus money with the bad contract in order to get the desired player off of their roster.

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Let’s look at a possible example.

Jacoby Ellsbury hasn’t played major league baseball in over two years due to injury issues. Ellsbury is currently signed through the next two years with an approximate $21 million dollar per year contract over the next two years (with a $5 million dollar buyout for the 2021 season, as well as a full no trade clause). It should be worth nothing that money owed through baseball contracts are all guaranteed, so he will be owed what he is owed.

The New York Yankees are a high spending team, and in the 2020 season, they are already on the hook for approximately $201 million dollars in payroll alone. This puts them very close to the luxury tax threshold of $208 million, which is something the organization really wants to avoid, but is not afraid to do in order to win (awkward).

Now, this is where the Toronto Blue Jays come in.

They have the financial ability to acquire a player like Ellsbury (assuming the full no trade clause gets waived, which I won’t argue if he will or not, let’s just assume he will), who hasn’t played in two years, and is most likely near the end of his career. The Yankees and Blue Jays could foster a trade where Toronto would send the Yankees some low-tier prospect who won’t impact the MLB payroll or might be a full-time minor leaguer, while the Blue Jays would acquire Ellsbury plus a high ranking prospect(s).

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The point of this transaction would be that while the Blue Jays would be receiving the terrible Ellsbury contract, New York would have to give up a potential top tier prospect(s) in order for the deal to happen. The Toronto Blue Jays management would hopefully not be ignorant enough to take the contract on without taking a top level prospect with significant years of MLB control, something Ross Atkins really finds attractive.

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While this would sting for the Yankees organization to lose young players, if they plan to go after free agents like Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg this off-season, they will need to shed some salary or risk going over the luxury tax threshold, something ownership hates doing because it ends up costing the organization quite a bit of coin.

In the end, the Blue Jays would have this bad contract(s) on the books for 1-2 years while the rebuild is still going on and Ellsbury can sit in the bench or the injured list during that time. This would allow the young players to still keep playing and allow the Blue Jays to develop the core they are looking for moving forward.

By the time his contract is over or the player is able to be bought out, the rebuild will be drawing nearer to an end (hopefully) and the money saved on not having bad contracts on the payroll anymore can be used on premium free agents or extending the prospects to longer term deals.

If executed properly, the Blue Jays front office can spend some money on some really terrible contracts and players, and still find themselves ahead with prospect capital. While I mentioned Jacoby Ellsbury in this article, he is not the only example nor player with a bad contract, and this tactic can be used on quite a few teams across the league.

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If Atkins and co. are willing to take on these short-term bad contracts, they can potentially walk away with young prospect riches which will only benefit the overall goal of developing a playoff skilled team with controllable, young players.

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It’s pretty well established that Gurriel Jr. will be the left fielder next year, and Grichuk will almost assuredly occupy one of the other two spots. Ideally he would play in right field, but until the Blue Jays find a permanent solution up the middle, he’ll likely slide back and forth.

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I think most Blue Jays fans feel that guys like Hernandez, Fisher, and McKinney have had enough of an audition to prove themselves, and that it’s hard to picture any of them as full-time starters at the moment. Hernandez would be the leader of the pack at this point, but despite taking some positive steps on defence in 2019, he’s probably best suited in a DH/part-time outfield role rather than as a centre fielder.

I think most of us would agree that an established centre fielder is what the Blue Jays could really use to help round out the offence, but that’s going to be a very difficult thing to find this off-season. The free agent market is currently lead by names like Billy Hamilton and Jarrod Dyson, neither of whom should be viewed as starting options, especially for a rebuilding club. The one intriguing name that might have been available, Starling Marte, is 31 and the Pirates sound like they’re planning on keeping him for 2020, unless the price is right. As much as I like the idea of a player like Marte in Toronto, I don’t know that overpaying for him now makes a lot of sense either.

If the Blue Jays did want to run with Grichuk as their permanent centre fielder, that would give them more options to upgrade the outfield, at least on offence. There are guys like Nick Castellanos, or Marcell Ozuna (and the rumours have started there already), or Yasiel Puig, but I don’t know that I see a great fit among the corner outfielders either, especially when you consider that the Blue Jays will be in year two of their rebuild, at least in theory. The ideal candidate would help in 2020, but really round out the roster for the seasons after that. Beyond the names I’ve already mentioned, there really aren’t any options on the upcoming free agent market that work well beyond a one-year contract.

With all of this in mind, if the Blue Jays are going to make a significant upgrade in the outfield then I believe it will have to come through a trade. If that’s the route the front office takes, my guess is they would rather have a minor league player who is either at or close to MLB-ready, rather than an established veteran to round out their roster now. For example, if the Blue Jays were to strike up trade talks for a centre fielder with the Atlanta Braves, I’m guessing they’d rather target prospects like Cristian Pache or Drew Waters rather than a veteran like Ender Inciarte.

NEXT: Is it worth exploring moving Gurriel Jr. around again?
The reality is, there isn’t much point in having a short-term solution in the outfield right now, as the Blue Jays already have enough capable options to fill that need. The only point to upgrading would be with the long-term in mind, and that might not be available this winter. In fact, I’m guessing that the Blue Jays will return a very similar outfield group in 2020 to what they had this year, whether the front office looks to change things up or not.

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Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Dave Bush delivers to the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game in Fort Myers, Fla., Sunday,

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By Chris Cotillo | [email protected]
The Red Sox are hiring Dave Bush as their new pitching coach, a source confirmed Wednesday night. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe and Barstool’s Jared Carrabis both reported the hire as likely.

Bush will replace Dana LeVangie, who was reassigned to a pro scouting role earlier this month. The Red Sox are also likely to hire an assistant pitching coach, a source said, though the identify of that coach is not yet known.

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Here are a few things to know about Bush.

He made 211 big league appearances, with modest success.
His name might ring a bell because he was around for a while, even appearing in 125 games with the Toronto Blue Jays. His career spanned nine years, 211 games and three teams (the Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers), and he had mixed results. He was most often used as a starter, and over his career compiled a 56-69 record with a 4.73 ERA. His most successful season came in 2006, when he went 12-11 with a 4.41 ERA for the Brewers.

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He had two stints in Toronto, which book-ended his career. His last big league outing came against the Red Sox in a 13-0 loss for the Jays on April 7, 2013.

He’s actually been in the Red Sox organization for a few years.
Bush’s first post-playing major league opportunity came with the Red Sox, when he joined the team as a pitching development analyst in November 2016. Two years later, he was named Boston’s “minor league pitching coordinator — performance.” So though he has not been a household name, he’s been around for three years.

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He reportedly beat out four other candidates.
According to The Boston Globe, Bush was one of five candidates that interviewed for the job. The only other name of the four who did not get the position that has been reported is former Reds manager Bryan Price. However, Bush is more from the analytics generation than Price is. And given the Red Sox’s appreciation for that approach to the game (just look at how they’ve utilized Brian Bannister), Bush fits more in the direction Boston is going.

He got his start as a coach at a private school in Maine.
Once his playing career concluded, Bush took a job as an assistant coach at Bridgton Academy, a private school in Maine. He served as an assistant coach and private tutor at the school from August 2014 until November 2016, when he took his first gig with the Red Sox.

Bush, who turns 40 in November, pitched in parts of nine major league seasons before joining the Red Sox as a pitching development analyst in 2016. He was promoted to the role of minor league pitching performance coordinator in January and, according to a release, used “objective information and technology to lead pitch development and optimization, pitch usage and strategy, and mechanics” in collaboration with the team’s research department.

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Bush worked with pitchers throughout Boston’s minor league system last season while also spending some time with the major league team. His familiarity with pitchers from all levels of the organization likely made him attractive to the Sox, who hoped to build a more cohesive culture by installing organization-wide pitching philosophies as they reshaped the department in the wake of the reassignments of LeVangie and assistant pitching coach Brian Bannister.

Rick Porcello, Dana LeVangie
Why’d the Red Sox make a change at pitching coach?

The Sox reassigned pitching coach Dana LeVangie on Tuesday.

The Sox cast a wide net in their search for LeVangie’s replacement, interviewing five candidates, including ex-Reds manager Bryan Price. Boston likely considered college pitching coaches in its search and could add someone from outside the organization for the assistant job.

Bush is the second addition to manager Alex Cora’s coaching staff this fall, joining new assistant hitting coach Peter Fatse. Bench coach Ron Roenicke, first base coach Tom Goodwin, third base coach Carlos Febles, hitting coach Tim Hyers, bullpen coach Craig Bjornson and major league coach Ramon Vazquez are all expected to return.