Category Archives: Toronto blue jays

THE CY YOUNG AND MVP AWARDS – REVISITED

Five weeks ago, I took a stab at who might win the Cy Young (left) images (8)and MVP (below) awards in each league. Yesterday, the top three finalists were announced in each category (somebody had a good idea). The field looks remarkably images (7)similar to the players I predicted would be in contention, except for the inclusion of Sonny Gray who emerged as a candidate for the AL Cy Young. 

While my reasoning behind the selections I made remains constant, my selections now are a bit different, mainly because the Post Season is now over. In the same way I put stock in a player’s TEAM making the playoffs, I now think that player’s performance in the Post Season counts equally as much. So, let’s get to the picks….. Continue reading

SMALL BALL (CHAPTER THREE)

Okay, give the Blue Jays some credit. They did what they had to do. They avoided a virtually insurmountable task of falling behind and having to overcome the Royals and a 3-0 deficit. They did it in Toronto style scoring eleven runs. Not to be missed is the fact that the Royals scored eight runs and pounded Toronto pitching.

 But the real question is this……do you see the Blue Jays scoring 11 runs (per) over the next few games? On the other hand, do you see them winning any of these games by a score of 3-2 or 4-3. Not gonna happen. Close games are won or lost by the bullpens. In that regard, can you even name the Blue Jays closer? 

So despite last night, small ball will win this Series. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

WELL, THERE YOU HAVE IT……

Small ball wins playoff games. As we talked about yesterday, the Blue Jays are learning that lesson the hard way. A mistake in short right field on a ball that could have been caught by anyone of  four players dropped in opening the door and the Royals walked right in.

They call it a game of “keeping the line moving”.  A double here, a single there, then a stolen base that prevented what should have been a double play – and just like that David Price – who had it on cruise control up to that point was fighting for his life. Five big runs came across that inning, all of them without the benefit of a home run. To seal the game, the Royal’s bullpen shuts down the mighty Blue Jays bats without so much as a whimper.

This is how it’s done in October. Good pitching, defense, and timely hitting. 

THE OTHERS HAVE IT…….THE BLUE JAYS DON’T

What is the one thing that you never hear anyone saying about the Toronto Blue Jays? It’s not their awesome lineup…..we hear plenty about that. It’s also not their lack of star power……they have plenty of that too with Bautista, Price, Tulowitski, and Encarnation. It’s not any of that. What you never hear anyone say about the Blue Jays is that they are a closely knit team. And you never hear about it because they simply don’t have one (not yet anyway).

You might recall that the Jays played a rather dismal first half of the season. Far into July, they were as many as seven games behind the Yankees. The wind had yet to catch their sails and it didn’t look like they were capable of creating a small draft themselves. Then ownership stepped in with an open checkbook and the willingness to give the team a makeover at the expense of their farm system. In came Tulo and Price and off they went as the Yankees couldn’t seem to run fast enough to get out of their way.

To be fair, often a team with a bunch of All Stars with $20 million + in yearly salaries finds it a challenge to blend together as a team. It’s also true that they haven’t been playing together as a unit for very long either.

Still, the Cubs, Royals, and Mets are clearly solidified as teams who work together to achieve a common goal. For the Royals, this is their second year with the same group of guys. In the crunch of the playoffs, good teams play with a bounce in their step. They scrounge for runs. They move runners over. They throw strikes. Toronto had none of this last night. It looks like it’s home run or bust. 

I’m not saying that the Blue Jays can’t  or won’t take it all the way. They could easily hit ten home runs over the next two games. But one thing you will not see is their team playing small ball – sometimes called Playoff Baseball. The players will always say it’s just another game we’re playing. But, it’s a different style of play that wins games at this point in the year. Good “teams” know that.

Continue reading

NOBODY ASKED ME BUT….. (Chapter 2)

Thisa-siegel-deadline is the second in a series dedicated to Jimmy Cannon, the late but not forgotten journalist who wrote a weekly column read by his many followers.

****If I were Chase Utley’s agent, I would advise him to drop his appeal. He didn’t play last night and it is unlikely that Mattingly would thrust him into the fray tonight. That makes two games “served”. MLB would probably buy that. Meanwhile, he can conjure up a statement that says something like, “Maybe, I was a little too aggressive on that play” – and we move on til the Winter when the Baseball Gods meet to refine the rules.

****David Price coming into a game in the fifth inning with a five run lead tells me that either the Blue Jays have no confidence in their bullpen or maybe they were just desperate to get Price a playoff win, cheap as it was.

****There is no reason why games need to be scheduled one at a time. Fans should be able to pick the game of their choosing, much like we see with the NFL. Oops, I forgot – what’s wrong with me? That would negate the $$$ grab by MLB and their sponsors. 

****Joe Madden is a perfect fit for the city of Chicago and the Cubs.

****Okay, how many of you will be watching the Democratic Debate on CNN tonight? Raise your hands please, I can’t see them.

****I tend to like watching playoff baseball, especially because the crowds are frenzied and very loud – and this trends to drown out the voices of the announcers.

****But on the other hand, I would buy my own satellite if I could listen to Vin Scully’s call of a ballgame every night.

****Either the strike zone graphics we see now are off or these umpires are doing a pretty darn good job of calling balls and strikes these days.

****Could the resume of Joe Torre as both a successful player and manager support the position he has now with MLB any better? Sometimes, they do get things right.

****Is there any doubt now (despite what Terry Collins said that he was “saving him” for the crucial third game last night) that Jacob DeGrom is the Ace of the Met’s staff – and not Matt The Brat.
Continue reading

GIRARDI’S EPITAPH MISSES THE MARK

New York Yankees manager Joe Girard’s press conference yesterday included a look forward to 2016 as well as a glance backward at ” what happened”. Most telling were his largely defensive comments explaining how he tried to give his aging lineup enough rest so they could limp to the finish line. Left unsaid, probably because he’s a true professional, is the question he must have been asking himself all season……..”Why do I even have to deal with this?”

The New York Yankees are old. Even Brett Gardner (left) who is considered “young” by team standards will be 33 next August. Along with Jacob Ellsbury, (below) he appeared to lose his legs down the stretch and both weighed heavily in the Yankee’s decline and inability to catch the Blue Jays. More telling, Ellsbury was sat by Girardi against Houston in favor of Chris Young. He may regret that decision now but it is indicative of the decisions Girardi had to cope with all year.

Even more baffling was Girardi’s insistence that the Yankees are good to go for next year. Again, he is not the type to put any of his players in harm’s way. But he could have deferred the question to Brian Cashman who will be weighing in soon and it is likely that he will have a entirely different take on next year’s roster. More importantly, ownership is likely to take notice of the continuing decline of TV ratings on YES. Even fans like myself found my way to SNY and the youthful and energetic Mets more often than not.  We’ve seen this cast before and watching Alex Rodriguez go 1-4 with three strikeouts and a home run is getting downright boring. And I sense that a good portion of the fan base agrees.

Some tough decisions need to be made quickly. CC Sabathia is one of them. As difficult as it would be (in light of his personal problems now), he needs to be cut loose and his salary eaten. Same with Teixeria who is a injury waiting to happen all year, every year. The kids the Yankees have need to be in the forefront of the lineup and in full view of the fans and media. Greg Bird, Luis Severino, Michael (above) Pineda (if he can stay healthy and grow up – pine tar?) and Rob Refsnyder are budding stars. Don’t let them wait for a spot to clear in the lineup when a aging “regular” goes down with injury. And for God sakes, do not sign David Price or any other veteran over the age of 26. 

In truth, the Yankees are no longer fun to watch. That needs to change………and while I’m thinking about it…….maybe a change at the helm needs to be made too.images-8 $$$ is always the big factor though and a year of Girardi’s contract would need to be eaten. We know what George would have done regardless of the cost. His son Hal moves to center stage now………it’s been six long years since the Yankees posted a Championship in 2009. The Boss would never have stood for that…..no way….no how.

 

AND THE 2015 CY YOUNG AWARDS GO TO…………

It’s always fun at this time of the year to predict what the baseball writers will do when they select their choices for the Cy Young and MVP awards at the conclusion of the World Series. This year, there is competition in at least three of the four award categories and as in the past, arguments will prevail throughout the Hot Stove season regardless of who is chosen. Today, we’ll take a look at the Cy Young and you can join the fun taking exception to my picks (comments).

We have a three way battle between Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arietta (left), and Zach Greinke  in the National League. Both Kershaw and Arietta had scorching second halves and in the case of Arietta, an argument could be made that the Cubs would be packing their bags and heading home tonight if not for his presence. Zach Greinke on the other hand has been a consistent presence for the Dodgers over the course of the entire season. He lost just three games and finished with the lowest ERA in the Majors in twenty years (Greg Maddox). It’s often said that the games played in April count the same as the ones played during crunch time in September. For that reason alone, Greinke gets my vote hands down.

In the American League, the choices would seem to be between Dallas Keutchel of the Houston Astros and David Price (left) who was rescued from the declining Tigers mid season by the Blue Jays. David Price has been and will continue to be a winner no matter where he pitches. He’s a workhorse who piles up innings like the pitchers of yesteryear did and is not prone to injuries that put him out of service for any length of time. Keutchel, (right) 
on the other hand, has had a phenomenal year and the same could be said for him as with Jake Arietta – where would the Astros be without him? But to me, the award should be given to an established hurler and Keutchel reminds me too much of Corey Kluber who won the award last season (I know, you say Corey who?) and disappeared off the radar this year. David Price is a pitcher’s pitcher who dominates and is always two pitches ahead of the hitters he faces game in and game out – he gets my vote in a very tight battle for the Cy Young in the American League.

“I COULDN’T GIVE UP THOSE KIDS………”

In the early days of July and before the trading frenzy began, I posted a column titled The Yankees Should Stand Pat. It argued that there was no reason to part with the young and promising talent in the farm system………for the sake of buying temporary talent (think David Price) or by adding a marquee name or two just to appease the fan base.

We all know how it played out. The Yankees did just that while Toronto’ s GM (left)  images-39“loaded up” adding Price as a rental and the oft  injured Troy Tulowiski. We also know (now) that a 7.5 game lead by the Yankees is now extinguished and the Blue Jays hold a tenuous lead in the East.

But just yesterday, Hal Steinbrenner – the principal owner of the Yankees images-25– offered a resounding defense of the Yankees decision to play for and with the future declaring “I didn’t want to give those kids up”.  Yankee fans along with baseball fans know that statement is BIG. And almost simultaneously, a report comes out rating the Yankees  #10 in all of baseball’s farm systems.

Recent call up Greg Bird goes 0 for 5 in his debut. Think that’ll continue?images-36……….not so says Luis Severino (left) (another sparkling farm system call up)……….Severino simply says he’s “The best”. Soon to follow will be Aaron Judge, a power hitter made for Yankee Stadium, Gary Sanchez – a major league ready hitter and catcher who may have to wait for Brian McCann to decompose at a early age due to a physically demanding position as well as a log  jam at DH that is further blurred by the arrival of Bird.

And so, for once the Yankees can truly be called a team of the future. Make no mistake about it though……..they will always have a marquee player or two- or three. They are the Yankees and they do play in New York. And when the time is right, you’ll see them actively engaged in the free agent and trade markets. So don’t be surprised if you see the likes of Bryce Harper, Matt Harvey, Mike Trout playing for this storied franchise in the future.

As for this year, (well) let’s just see how it plays out. I’ve said before…..the Yankees have a team with chemistry and proven experienced (though aging) talent while the Blue Jays have a buzz saw lineup. And down the stretch they come…….