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The Disaster That Was The Blue Jays 2013 Season: State Of The Union

Following the 2012 Major League Baseball season, Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous made some noticeable moves, to seemingly re-invent Canada’s team.  Jay’s fans everywhere were ecstatic and pumped for the upcoming season, thinking that playoff baseball would finally return to Canada after 20 long seasons.

Following the 2012 Major League Baseball season, Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos made some noticeable moves, to seemingly re-invent Canada’s team. Jay’s fans everywhere were ecstatic and pumped for the upcoming season, thinking that playoff baseball would finally return to Canada after 20 long seasons.

By ‘Special Guest  Blue Jays Writer’ Steve Cheeseman 

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Another Season, Another Disaster.

The off-season started with a boom, with the signings of Maicer Izturis (3 yr-$9 million), and Melky Cabrera (2 yr-$16million).  This was followed by acquiring hard throwing Esmil Rogers from Cleveland.  

They weren’t done yet.

On November 14th, Anthopoulos completed a blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins, receiving pitchers  Josh Johnson  (2-time All-Star)and Mark Buehrle (4-time All-Star), short-stop Jose Reyes (4-time All-Star, 2011 NL Batting Champion),   catcher John Buck,  utility man Emilio Bonifacio, and $8 million in cash in exchange for pitcher Henderson Alvarez, short-stop Yunel Escobar, catcher Jeff Mathis, and prospects.  

It was a steal.  Toronto then sent John Buck and prospects to the New York Mets, for reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, catcher Josh Thole and a prospect.   

Odd makers out of Las Vegas named the Toronto Blue Jays as the favorites to win the 2013 World Series.  Too good to be true right? Pretty much.

Munenori Kawasaki – See You Tomorrow

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Yankees Current State Of The Union + The Phil Hughes Question

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Wednesday, May.08/2013

As the Yankees enter May, they do so in second place trailing their rivals, the Boston Red Sox. This is a surprise for many who thought that Boston and New York would struggle in 2013.

As the Yankees enter May, they do so in second place trailing their rivals, the Boston Red Sox. This is a surprise for many who thought that Boston and New York would struggle in 2013

By Nicholas Rossoletti (Yankees Correspondent/Trade Correspondent):

As April came to a close and May began, the Yankees found themselves in an all so familiar place. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were atop the American League East.  It seems like this struggle between century old rivals has dominated the AL East for the better part of the last 15 years.  

This year was supposed to be different as New York and Boston were both expected to cede the division to the Baltimore O’s, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, and perhaps that will still be the case, but after five weeks of the season, it certainly seems like the demise of the Yanks and Sox was greatly overstated.

Part of the reason that the Yankees have managed to prove their naysayers incorrect has been their stellar starting pitching.  Each of the top four Yankee starters has pitched well to start the season, but as the title of the article suggests, there is one pitcher who has stood out especially in the last several weeks.

 His performance leads to this question: Is Phil Hughes finally becoming the pitcher he was always touted to be? Is the 26-year old right hander finally blossoming into a strong 1/2 starter? The numbers, at least early on, scream YES. 

The Phil Hughes Question:

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Yankees Update: Week 4 – The Injuries Mount Yet They Are Still The Bronx Bombers!

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Wednesday May 1,2013

After a hot start to the 2013 campaign, Francisco Cervelli has broken his hand and added his name to the long list of Yankee injuries in 2013.  Cervelli worked to get back to the Majors and won the Yankee starting job out of training camp.  Now only time will tell whether Cervelli can return from injury with the same skill that he opened the season.

After a hot start to the 2013 campaign, Francisco Cervelli has broken his hand and added his name to the long list of Yankee injuries in 2013. The man worked his way back to the Majors and won the Yankee starting job out of training camp. Now only time will tell whether Cervelli can return from injury with the same skill that he opened the season.

By Nicholas Rossoletti (Yankees Correspondent/Trade Correspondent):

The end of April was supposed to signal the beginning of the end of the Yankee injury woes. Upon breaking camp, it was thought that Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira would all be returning in the next week or two.  

Now, it has become clear that the Yankee injury woes are just beginning.

As discussed in last week’s piece, Jeter’s set-back already has extended his time table until the middle of July at the earliest.  Big Tex has been unable to meet his time table as well and is not prepared to take live swings yet.

Granderson is the only player on track to return from injury based on the original timeframe.  Grandy is slated to return in at some point in May.

Frankie Being Frankie:
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Review of Stadium Journey’s Latest Issue: 4 MLB Ball Parks To See – Top 10 Park Quirks, The 2 Best Parks and Japan

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Wednesday Apr.24/2013

Stadium Journey is both a website and a magazine that thrives in rating and reviewing Sporting Venues around the World.  Among those sports is MLB.  Co - Founder Paul Swaney informed me that the recent magazine is fully geared to help the avid baseball fan visit their favorite ballpark

Stadium Journey is both a website and a magazine that thrives in rating and reviewing Sporting Venues around the World. Among those sports is MLB. Co – Founder Paul Swaney informed me that the recent magazine is fully geared to help the avid baseball fan visit their favorite ballpark.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

There is not a bigger marketing in all of baseball than all 30 MLB Parks of the game of baseball.  As someone who has dedicated their lives to visiting ballparks the last 7 years, I will pass along information that will help the general masses when it comes to my attention.

One of the people I have met through my baseball travels is Paul Swaney.  I am doing this review and talking about this magazine because I endorse it 100% – and no one spends more time in studying the MLB Ballparks than the fine folks at www.stadiumjourney.com

From the Website:

Stadium Journey is a web venture with the goal to become a world-class community resource for sports fans, built around optimizing the experience of attending live sporting events.

About SJ “We provide tips and information through reviews of pro and college sports stadiums. We also rely on fans to provide tips and information about their favorite home stadium, or a first time impression. By sharing our knowledge, we can make every trip to the ballpark, stadium, or arena the very best it can be. Enjoy the journey!” Read the rest of this entry

Yankees Update: Bad News On El Capitan While The Team Keeps Winning

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Wednesday April.24/2013

Derek Jeter. The Yankee Captain. A future Hall of Famer.  Last October, Jeter broke his ankle during the American League Championship Series.  All off-season, it was reported that Jeter would be ready for Opening Day.  After a series of set-backs, it has now become clear that due to a small crack in his ankle, Jeter will not be ready until after the All-Star Break. Can the Yankees survive without their captain? Only time will tell.

Derek Jeter. The Yankee Captain. A future Hall of Famer. Last October, Jeter broke his ankle during the American League Championship Series. All off-season, it was reported that Jeter would be ready for Opening Day. After a series of set-backs, it has now become clear that due to a small crack in his ankle, Jeter will not be ready until after the All-Star Break. Can the Yankees survive without their captain? Only time will tell.

By Nicholas Rossoletti (Yankees Correspondent/Trade Correspondent):

Transitions are rarely easy.  People, generally, are creatures of habit and routine.  Change is almost always seen as a scary thing for most.  Yankee fans are no different.  The transition from the old guard is an overwhelming theme to this season for the Yankees. 

As Week Three of the Major League season moved along, the Yankees received more bad injury news on their shortstop, Derek Jeter.  The Yankee captain suffered a significant setback in his recovery from a broken ankle when it was reported that a small crack had emerged in the same location as the injury. 

Reports had indicated that Jeter’s surgery would prevent such a re-occurrence.  Obviously, this is not the case, and now, the Yankees will be without their shortstop until at the very least the All-Star break.

Yankee fans’ reaction was obvious as the news broke.  For the better part of two decades, Jeter has been the constant in the Yankee lineup, and this injury reminds Yankee fans, again, that the times, they are a changing. 

The Captain:

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A Night With Mookie Wilson Part 1: The Gala Dinner Speech At Tangle Creek Golf And Country Club

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Monday, April.22/2013

Mookie Wilson talking at the Golf and Country Club Friday April.12/2013, Simcoe, Ontario, Canada

Mookie Wilson talking as the Keynote Speaker at the Tangle Golf and Country Club Friday April.12/2013, Thornton, Ontario, Canada.  MLB Reports was there to listen to the Mets Hall Of Famer speak – and we have a special 2 part series for you surrounding the event – including an exclusive one on one interview we conducted that will be the 2nd part of the 2 part series.

By Jordan Hennessey (Blue Jays Correspondent) 

One night with Mookie Wilson Part 1:

“Speed is the one thing that there’s no answer for. You can kind of contain it but in order to do that, you have to change your game” – Mookie Wilson.

Mookie Wilson is remembered for his speed and enthusiasm on the base baths, but there is more to him than that. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mookie Wilson at a Gala for Smith Brothers Baseball Central Sports Facility, a great new Baseball factory in Central Ontario.

The event was held at Tangle Creek Golf and Country Club. Partial proceeds went to Candlelighters Simcoe, in support of parents whose child has been diagnosed with cancer. Needless to say it was a great night for two great causes.

As an added bonus, we got to hear Mookie Wilson talk baseball, life, and his time on Sesame Street hanging out with the count. Which he told like it was yesterday.

To listen and read about the Interview I did with Mookie Wilson: Part 2 of a night with Mookie click here

The Mets and Mookie on Sesame Street

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Can The Blue Jays Weather The Jose Reyes Injury?

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Wednesday Apr.17/2013

Anthopoulos is about as prudent a man as you will find.  He is all smiles in this press conference, but he knows what is at stake.  He has deemed that the "time is now" for the Blue Jays to go for it all, and convinced his bosses to risk hundreds of millions of dollars.  If the team he has assembled does not compete, for any reason, he may be out of a job.  He is not the kind of guy who puts his feet up and becomes content.  His focus right now is on eliminating any causes for concern from the 2013 Blue Jays as possible, because they do still exist, despite the recent mania.

Anthopoulos is about as prudent a man as you will find. He is all smiles in this press conference, but he knows what is at stake. He has deemed that the “time is now” for the Blue Jays to go for it all, and convinced his bosses to risk hundreds of millions of dollars. If the team he has assembled does not compete, for any reason, he may be out of a job. The team has had a mediocre start at 6 – 7 in the tough AL East – and have lost their prime Leadoff Man for 3 months.  Going the extra mile to add depth in the franchise may enable the club to stay in contention until Jose Reyes comes back in July.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

Jose Reyes was the best player acquired over the winter by the Toronto Blue Jays.  He was supposed to be the Leadoff Hitter, provide speed and flash the glove at the Short Stop position.

The 30 Year Old was doing just that before going down in a heap at Second Base over the weekend stealing a bag.

Incredibly, the guy almost was injured even weeks doing the very same thing just a few weeks back.

Brett Lawrie was activated from the Disabled List last night.  The initial plan was to maybe play him at Second Base, with Jose Bautista moving back to Third Base.  This would put Maicer Izturis at Shortstop, with relegating Emilio Bonifacio to Right Field.

Jose Reyes Injury:

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Toronto Blue Jays: Clubhouse Cohesion, New Faces, And The World Baseball Classic

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Monday, February 18th, 2013

Melky Cabrera, Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion. 3 of the first 4 hitters in the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays lineup, and all from the Dominican Republic. In their first year as teammates on the Blue Jays, and one of their first spring training practices, have already become a close trio. Dominican slugger Jose Bautista is missing from this photo, but is the 4th piece of this dazzling 1-4 combination.

Melky Cabrera, Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion. 3 of the first 4 hitters in the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays lineup, and all from the Dominican Republic. In their first year as teammates on the Blue Jays, and one of their first spring training practices, have already become a close trio. Dominican slugger Jose Bautista is missing from this photo, but is the 4th piece of this dazzling 1-4 combination.

By Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Toronto Blue Jays Correspondent)

The Toronto Blue Jays had a very well publicized off-season.  Many moves were made, including two blockbuster trades, the signing of one of baseball’s best and most controversial contact hitters, and a new (old) manager.  A core of the former Blue Jays remained intact, but between the big moves made by GM Alex Anthopoulos this off-season, along with the smaller additions, the Blue Jays have 12 new players on their 25 man roster.  These 25 players are expected by many, to hit the gates running, and to at the very least, earn Toronto a spot in the playoffs come October 2013.

Clearly, team chemistry plays are huge part of winning championships.  We have seen numerous teams boasting extremely talented rosters have merely moderate success, and we have seen teams loaded with professional journeymen have historic success.  Michael Jordan is noted for making the comment, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships”.

The 2013 Blue Jays are very unique in that while half of their team is in fact new to Toronto, many of these players have played together and have cultural bonds. The blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins brought a total of 6 players to Toronto, all of whom, were quite obviously teammates in South Florida.  5 of these players are expected to immediately be impact players in the clubhouse. Another big trade with the Mets brought over three players who will likely contribute to the team to varying degrees, and have already formed close ties amongst each other due to the relationship that exists between a knuckleball pitcher and his battery mate.  Right off the bat, we can account for 8 of the 12 new players on the roster who at the very least, already are familiar with each other and are not entering a new city completely unfamiliar with their teammates. The following players might all make their way to the ALL-Star Game at Citi Field this year:  R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion .

2013 Preview of the Toronto Blue Jays:

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MLB Reports Junior Reporter Haley Smilow Interviews ‘Blue Jays Closer’ Casey Janssen

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Sunday January 13th, 2013

a  casey janssen

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner):

Haley Smilow was a busy reporter last year.  So much so, that we couldn’t keep up with her.  In her latest interview from last summer, Haley talked to Casey Janssen of the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Center…. about his favorite Ball Parks to Play in, who he doesn’t like to face, what he does for pre and post game rituals and what he does on the road.  Haley pulls no punches in asking the Relief Pitcher about his life in this candid interview.  Amongst other topics discussed were:  What Janssen does for charity work, what his favorite animal is…. Also whether or not he has forgotten his passport ever when going through International Customs and his favorite sports team. Read the rest of this entry

James Paxton Deserves More Attention

Sunday, December 30th,2012

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Sam Evans (Baseball Writer): 

James Paxton is one of the most talented Left-Handed pitching prospects currently in the Minor Leagues. However, partially because he went through trouble entering the MLB Draft a few years ago, Paxton seems to be underrated be most of the baseball world. There is a decent chance that Paxton will make his MLB debut in Seattle before the All-Star Break, so he should have a chance to get some of the attention he deserves in 2012. The Mariners are lucky to have Paxton, whether they use him as a trading piece or they decide to keep him. James Paxton has the talent to become a #3 starter in the majors and it won’t be long before the baseball world is much more aware of this.

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The Blue Jays New Reality: Building Towers on Shaky Ground

Saturday, November 23rd, 2012

The Blue Jays have made a lot of moves in a short period of time and added a jolt to a fan base which had become numb of 19 years of not competing. People are saying they will win, including Las Vegas odds makers. They certainly look way better on paper than they did two weeks ago and people have a reason to be excited with the direction the franchise is going. They have taken 2 quick steps forward, but what happens when Murphy’s Law strikes and they take 1, or 2 steps back? How good are they then?

Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst):

There has been a lot of talk thus far about how the Blue Jays are slotted to be ultra-competitive.  And I don’t want to be a “negative-Nancy”, because this hype comes with good reason.  I, as a Blue Jays fan, am beyond thrilled with the organization allowing Alex Anthopoulos to pull the trigger and make this kind of off-season happen…there is no doubt that this is what Blue Jays fans have been waiting for over the last 18 years.  The Rogers family has shown that they aren’t simply using the Rogers Centre as the world’s largest billboard.  They demonstrated that they are committed to take the financial risks necessary to make this team competitive.  They said they would spend big $$$ when the “time came”, and they kept their word.  The time has definitely come when you have two guys hitting 40 home runs a season in the middle of your lineup.  I applaud the Rogers’ and the front office for saying something and sticking to it.

That being said, when I hear things like “we’re not done yet”, and, “the Blue Jays would like to add another front-line starter”, it soothes me and calms my nerves.  The truth is, and I don’t want to seem greedy, but I am not content with where the team is now.  If the past three seasons have shown us anything it is that over the course of 162-game season, injuries happen.  Bottom-line: the roster you start with on opening day, will not be your roster throughout the season.  Nobody has a rubber arm and muscles made of Teflon.  Murphy’s law is constantly looming over any clubhouse and just waiting to strike.  Look at 2012, we lost our 2, 3, and 4 slotted pitchers in 3 consecutive days! Read the rest of this entry

The Toronto Blue Jays Franchise Hitters: Part 3 Of A 7 Part Article Series

Friday, Nov.16/2012

Note from Chuck Booth:  I am attempting to bring the history for each of the 30 MLB Franchises into a 5 part series that will focus on 1. The teams history.  2. The hitters 3. The pitchers. 4. The Teams Payroll going into 2013 and 5.The Ball Park that they play in. (The stadium articles will all be done next summer when I go to all of the parks in under a month again.)  Be sure to check my author page with a list of all of  my archived articles section here.

 

Tony Fernandez leads the Blue Jays Franchise for Hits and Games Played ALL-Time. At the age of 37, he flirted with a .400 average for half of the season in 1999. In his first go around with Toronto, he was part of the BlockBuster Trade that saw he and Fred McGriff go to San Diego for Joe Carter and Robbie Alomar at the GM’s Meetings in Dec of 1990. -Photo Courtesy of Sports Illustrated.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

I like that this franchise series is right dab smack in the middle of the biggest Franchise trade since Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff went to San Diego for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter in 1990.  A Toronto Blue Jays fan can only hope for the same result that came down afterwards to repeat itself in the next few year.  The early days of the Jays hitters (late 1970’s provided some long-term reliable guys,) however it wasn’t until Jesse Barfield won a HR Title and George Bell came home with the 1987 AL MVP, that the rest of the MLB started to take notice on the hitters of this Canadian Team.  As soon as the club moved into SKYDOME, the hitters had a field day.  Not to say that Exhibition Stadium didn’t aid some homeruns and nice averages in its day, it is just that SKYDOME is a hitter friendly park.

From George Bell and the outstanding other 80’s OF trio of Barfield and Lloyd “The Shaker” Moseby, to Tony Fernandez and Ernie Whitt, these guys all played a huge chunk of their careers with this Canadian Club.  Fred McGriff routinely hit towering shots off of the Windows Restaurant and led the AL in HRs during the 1989 Pennant Winning Season.  In 1991, when Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar arrived onto the scene, the offense just clicked on all cylinders.  Devon White was gracefully stealing bases and striding into runs with those gigantic high knee kicks of his.  John Olerud walked right out of College and added one of the best ‘natural’ swings that any of us have ever seen.  Veterans Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor bashed their way into Jays hearts with their limited time with the organization en route to back to back World Series Titles in 1992 and 1993.  After the Strike/Lockout, the team then saw Shawn Green and Carlos Delgado routinely destroy pitchers and be amongst the league lead in several power categories.

There is a ton more on this article just past these links or by clicking the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY ICON. 

Here are the links for the article series.

The Toronto Blue Jays Franchise 1977-1993 Part 1 Of A 7 Part Series Click Here:

Franchise History Part 2 1994-2012: http://mlbreports.com/2012/11/28/jay/

The Hitters:  The Toronto Blue Jays Franchise Hitters: Part 3 Of A 7 Part Article Series: 

The Pitchers:  The Toronto Blue Jays Franchise Pitchers Part 4 Of A 7 Part Series

Skydome:  An Interview with ‘Rogers Centre Expert’ and “MLB reports Founder” Jonathan Hacohen Part 5 of 7

For Part 6 of the 7 Part Series:  Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll Click here

For Part 7 of the 7 Part Series:  Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll:  A Readers Thoughts, Click Here: 

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Dissecting The Blockbuster Trade Between The Blue Jays And The Marlins

Wednesday, November.14/2012

Jose Reyes is a .291 Career Hitter and has averaged 55 Steals and 110 Runs Per 162 Games Played. He should have no problem scoring runs with Encarnacion and Joey Bats hitting in the middle of the lineup for Toronto.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

I think you can safely say that the off-season has truly begun!  I was writing on my computer yesterday when the big trade blew up on twitter.  I live in White Rock, British Colombia, Canada,  so you can only imagine how excited the whole country of Canada was to talk about baseball on the big media Social Website.  Within minutes, it was clear that the Marlins and Jays were talking about a huge deal.  There is a remarkable quality that I have admired about Alex Anthopoulos for a few years now.  That his organization is pretty tight-lipped about their negotiations with any MLB team, just as it was with the Marlins on Tuesday.  I waited a few minutes and then…..WHAM!  A Blockbuster trade came right down the PIKE!  Here is the trade in case you have been living under a rock for the past 24 hours.

To visit the 2013 Updated Version of the Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Payroll Blog I did click here

To the Blue Jays 2012 Stats:

SS/2B Jose Reyes  .287  11 HRs 57 RBI, 86 Runs, 40 SB

SP Josh Johnson  8-14  3.81 ERA  191.1 IP 165 SO

C John Buck .192  12 HRs 41 RBI

2B/ss/3B/ Emilio Bonifacio  .258  1 HR 11 RBI, 30 Runs, 25 SB in 244 AB

SP Mark Buehrle  13-13  3.74 ERA  202. IP (12th straight year of 200 IP+)

4 Million Dollars Cash

To the Marlins:

SS Yunel Escobar  .253  9 HRs 51 RBI

2B/SS Adeiny Hechavarria  .254  2 HRs 10 RBI, 126 AB

C Jeff Mathis .218 8 HRs 27 RBI, 211 AB

SP Henderson Alvarez  9-14  4.85 ERA  187.2 IP

Also Prospects:

SP Justin Nicolino:

RP: Anthony DeSclafini:

OF: Jake Marisnick Read the rest of this entry

The Toronto Blue Jays Franchise 1977-1993 Part 1 Of A 7 Part Series

Friday, Nov.09/2012

Note from Chuck Booth:  I am attempting to bring the history for each of the 30 MLB Franchises into a 5 part series that will focus on 1. The teams history.  2. The hitters 3. The pitchers. 4. The Teams Payroll going into 2013 and 5.The Ball Park that they play in. (The stadium articles will all be done next summer when I go to all of the parks in under a month again.)  Be sure to check my author page with a list of all of  my archived articles section here.

The Blue Jays have not qualified for the Playoffs since they won Back to Back World Series in 1992 and 1993. Only Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Toronto have not made a playoffs appearance since the 1994 strike. At the time they were around the top of the MLB Payroll for all teams.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

In sifting through 35 years of history with the Toronto Blue Jays as a franchise, it is sad that since 1994, only Pittsburgh, Toronto and Kansas City have not made a playoff appearance in the Major Leagues.  They have been battling the Red Sox and Yankees powerhouse clubs since the 1994 player strike/1995 Lock-out.  This baseball interruption of play was also a  deciding factor on the Montreal Expos losing their franchise, however one could say that this has had a profound effect on the other only team North of The Border.  The Jays were a model franchise all the way through the 80’s.  From 1983-1993, the team carried out 11 straight winning seasons, 5 Pennants and back to back World Series Wins in 1992 and 1993.

Pat Gillick had been with the baseball club from the get go, and after finishing in dead-last for the first 5 years of existence, the Jays rode the backs of several budding stars that were drafted by the man.  From the early pitching stars of Jim Clancy and Dave Stieb, to the young outfield that flourished as a core for years in: Lloyd Moseby, George Bell and Jesse Barfield, the team showed that drafting and trading for young players was the way to build an organization.  It took until 1985 for the teams first Pennant, barely edging the Yankees by 2 games for the AL East.  Playoff disappointment followed from 1985-1991.  The team soon would find the promised land as the top team in 1992 and 1993.

Franchise History Part 2 1994-2012: http://mlbreports.com/2012/11/28/jay/

The Hitters:  The Toronto Blue Jays Franchise Hitters: Part 3 Of A 7 Part Article Series

The Pitchers:  The Toronto Blue Jays Franchise Pitchers Part 4 Of A 7 Part Series

Skydome:  An Interview with ‘Rogers Centre Expert’ and “MLB reports Founder” Jonathan Hacohen

For Part 6 of the 7 Part Series:  Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll Click here

For Part 7 of the 7 Part Series:  Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll:  A Readers Thoughts, Click Here: 

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What MLB Park Will Be The Next To Host A WrestleMania?

Wednesday, October.31/2012

Wrestlemania 18 (At SkyDome) was Hulk Hogan vs ‘The Rock.’ Hogan was his heel face character  ‘Hollywood’ Hogan from his NWO days in the WCW for the event. The fans of Toronto gave the Hulkster several standing ovations for his entrance and as well for the Match. He was the most popular wrestler in Canada that day. While he lost to Dwayne Johnson in one of his best contests of his career, this match gave the WWE the idea to turn him Baby Face Again. The next week “Hulkamania” was reborn with Red and Yellow.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

I have previously mentioned that baseball and wrestling was my entire life as a young kid in the 80’s.  To me, nothing was bigger than the World Series every fall or WrestleMania every spring.  In 1990, the city of Toronto hosted WrestleMania 6 at the (NEWEST) ballpark in the MLB,  “The SkyDome.”  Back in the day, the building was considered state of the art.  I mean they were the 1st park to carry McDonalds as a fast food joint for a concession, they had luxury suite hotel rooms (in which some people forgot to draw the curtains to in heats of passion) and everything was big league.  So when almost 68000 fans packed into SkyDome to watch the 1st ever WrestleMania in Canada (and also an MLB Park), it was an un-believeable atmosphere.

Wrestle Mania 6 The SkyDome–Photo Courtesy of WWE

Now I lived in Calgary at the time, yet I had seen my first MLB Game in 1989 at the SKYDOME.  I would have loved to have been in that audience.  I watched the events transpire from CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) in a big Restaurant in Calgary.  (Yes people, there used to be no black box that you would be able to buy ALL PPV events on.) 

HOGAN VS THE ROCK FULL MATCH FROM WRESTLEMANIA 18

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Moises Sierra Has a Future in the Majors: A Blue Jays Work in Progress

Sunday August 26th, 2012

Sam Evans: When Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos traded away both Travis Snider and Eric Thames at the trade deadline, it created an opportunity for unheralded twenty-three year old outfielder Moises Sierra. Sierra has a chance to show Toronto that he should be part of their future in these final couple months of the season. With his 70-grade arm and his ability to produce runs at a solid pace, Sierra could have a job in the majors for years to come. However, Sierra has a lot of work to do to become a candidate for playing time at Rogers Centre in 2013.

Moises Sierra was signed by the Blue Jays out of the Dominican Republic back in 2005. This was before the Blue Jays dominated the scouting world, so Sierra has never been an “Anthopoulos guy”. From 2006 to 2008, Sierra had some rough numbers for different teams, but he showed enough to be promoted from the DSL, in 2006, to earning a starting job in High-A for the 2009 season. Sierra had a 122 wRC+ at High-A in 2009, but he missed most of the 2010 season due to a stress fracture in his leg and a couple of other minor injuries. Read the rest of this entry

John Farrell for Bobby Valentine: The Second Managerial Trade Ever?

Thursday August 23rd, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  After the Red Sox cut ties with longtime manager Terry Francona, there were a few options for his replacement. Among those options were former pitching coach for the 2007 World Series Champion team John Farrell, and high-profile former-manager Bobby Valentine. Both seemed to be good options, and the Red Sox signed Valentine. Farrell won the managerial job with the Blue Jays after the retirement of Cito Gaston (Brian Butterfield, DeMarlo Hale, and Sandy Alomar, Jr. were also rumored to be vying for the position). Each team was poised to finish atop or close to the top of the AL East standings. This wasn’t the case for either team.

First I’ll cover the Red Sox. Their main problem was the lack of production. Adrian Gonzalez—who the Sox acquired to help carry the offense failed to produce at the beginning of the season. At the All Star Break, he had less than ten home runs. Jacoby Ellsbury was injured after only a few games, and the pitching was absolutely awful. Carl Crawford took a while to come back from his wrist and elbow injuries, and recently shut his season down to undergo Tommy John surgery. Jon Lester, the number one starter was up and down, and has had an off-year. Josh Beckett received boos after being accused of playing golf in between starts. There was obviously something wrong. The Red Sox fell out of contention fairly early—something that wasn’t expected. A lot of the criticism fell on the manager. Bobby Valentine was accused of demeaning the players, saying something along the lines of “nice inning, kid” to rookie Will Middlebrooks after he made an error. Another of Valentine’s slip-ups was calling into question Kevin Youkilis’ effort. This ultimately led to Youk being traded to the White Sox, ending his successful Red Sox career. Veterans such as Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez didn’t take kindly to this and sent a text to management, spurring a meeting between front office officials and players. The situation in Boston is not good; players are divided into players versus manager and players versus players that support the manager. A change in Boston seems necessary; the pitching coach has already been relieved, and it seems like Bobby Valentine may be next.

Read the rest of this entry

A Busch Stadium Book Excerpt from ‘The Fastest Thirty Ballgames’

Friday, Aug.03/2012

Game#25 Day#24
Busch Stadium
St. Louis, MO
Aug.01/2008

I never thought anything was going to equal the previous day. We had arrived back at my brother’s house to spend a quality morning with my nieces and nephew—and Trent’s wife Kristy before returning to the road. It was a quick trip from Philadelphia to St. Louis. It was going to cost us a fortune to all take the shuttle into the Hilton at $17 each-so I got us on the next transportation shuttle bus, and then negotiated a deal with Budget to give me an extra few hours head start on the 24 hour time line  airport rule—so I would not have to return after the St. Louis game to pick up the Mini-SUV, which had been the original plan.

Budget was awesome to let me have this deal early. I am a Fast Break member with them-and have/had spent a lot of money with them. We got a Mitsubishi SUV. My brothers thought it was a little small, but for a $65.00 rental that started out in St. Louis and ended up the next day in Minnesota-it was a great deal. Yes we had a five-hour drive from St. Louis to Chicago tomorrow, but we were all tough guys. I once again told them-“welcome to my world.”
That day in St. Louis was myopic. My brother Trent knew a guy at head office St. Louis, and that gentlemen made a few calls and arranged for my dad and I too receive ‘Field Passes’-and to be interviewed by Fox-Sports Midwest. I was almost in disbelief of that option, but it was now going to happen later that day. This experience was even better because none of us had been to new Busch Stadium-so all of us were there for the first time. Overall it was my 29th stadium so I only had “The Ballpark In Arlington” for stadiums left to complete my active 30. Much like Coors, Safeco and AT&T Park, the red-brick around the whole Stadium at Busch Stadium is top-notch. Read the rest of this entry

Toronto Blue Jays: 2012 Trade Deadline Predictions

Friday July 13th, 2012

Alexander McWilliams (MLB reports Intern Candidate):  As of yesterday, the Toronto Blue Jays and their fans can completely throw out the idea of trading the surging Edwin Encarnacion at the trade deadline on July 31st. General Manager Alex Anthopoulos locked up the 1st basemen/Designated Hitter to a 3-year deal worth $27 million, with a club option in 2016 worth a reported $10 million. With this deal taking place some 19 days before the trade deadline, what can fans expect to happen with their beloved Blue Jays? Many say they will be sellers, and others say buyers. Buy why can’t they be both?

                  The Blue Jays have developed, arguably, the best farm system in the MLB ever since Alex Anthopoulos took over as GM. Not only do they possess some of the best pitching prospects, but position players as well. All teams across the league are more than aware of the injuries that Toronto has suffered over the past few months, and could look to exploit said farm system in order to provide an immediate need for the team north of the border. Names such as Justin Upton, Carlos Quentin, Matt Garza, and Cole Hamels are the big names being talked about by a lot of teams these past few months. All are huge impact players which could benefit any team that acquired their services, but at what cost? Read the rest of this entry

Adeiny Hechavarria and his Future with the Blue Jays

Sunday June 17th, 2012

Sam Evans: Adeiny Hechavarria might be the best defensive shortstop in the minor leagues. However, his bat has always been far behind his glove, in terms of development. When the twenty-three year old started to hit at the end of last year, people started to take notice. Now, after over four hundred at bats in the minors, Blue Jays fans are starting to wonder when they’ll get to see this talented shortstop at the major league level.

Hechavarria isn’t exactly the youngest shortstop prospect. Cubs’ shortstop Starlin Castro and Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus are both younger than Hechavarria, who has yet to reach the majors. However, Hechavarria is still one of the younger players in Triple-A.

The Blue Jays signed Hechavarria to a contract that will pay him $10 million, when he was a free agent out of Cuba back in 2010. Back then, Hechavarria was thought of as a light-hitting shortstop, with tremendous potential due to his outstanding defense. The Toronto organization showed they believed Hechavarria could provide just enough value to be worth  the big signing bonus they gave him back in 2010. Read the rest of this entry

Can Canada Support a Second Baseball Franchise in Vancouver?

Friday, June.01/2012

Newly renovated BC Place Stadium with $600 Million Dollars in upgrades, re-opened on Sept.30/2011 and features a 100 by 85 retractable roof. The lights also illuminate different colors both inside and outside of the building. The stadium could be converted to meet MLB specifications.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- At first look you might not think that Vancouver could support a Major League Baseball franchise, but there are a few things to consider.  With a surrounding area population of 2.5 Million, it is one of the biggest cities in the USA or Canada not to have a team. Of course when you are looking at the viability of a franchise submission/or relocation, you must look at the facility that the baseball would be played in.  With newly renovated B.C Place Stadium-(see http://www.bcplacestadium.com/,) and its $600 Million Dollar Renovations, it is one of the most impressive structures in North America now. 

The building itself is estimated to be worth over a billion dollars.  It’s clear, retractable roof, with an incredible look to detail inside the building with 22 inch stadium style seating has all of the modern amenities that a new age fan would want.  The facility features several new Skyboxes for corporate suites, and brand new concession stands that would be an extremely good revenue generator. The stadium’s surface is made up of Field Turf, and could be converted to meet baseball specifications.  This stadium is a turn-key situation unlike any other in North America when it comes to a baseball ready facility.

Major League Baseball has gained in popularity over the last 20 years in the Lower Mainland with turning out MLB’ers like Larry Walker, Jeff Francis , Ryan Dempster and Brett Lawrie all coming from this area.  Also in Canada, you have 3 TV networks that have an all-sports format in www.thescore.ca, www.tsn.ca and www.sportsnet.ca that would gladly love to fill content on their networks by bidding for television rights on a new baseball team in Canada.  There are enough talented sports personalities to fill in solid coverage. Read the rest of this entry

MLB Ball Park Staff Can Make a World of Difference

Monday March 19, 2012

‘Douglas Chuck Booth’ (Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- In 2007, MLB Opening Week experienced massive snowstorms along the Eastern Seaboard.  Several teams had to cancel games and reschedule them for later in the year.  I happened to have a bought a car near London, Ontario that I was driving all the way across America to return to Vancouver B.C Canada that week.  As I was visiting baseball parks, they were being snowed out.  I tried for the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati only for it to have been snowed out.  I extended my trip by a day to make up the game in Cincy.  I watched the game in a snow storm.  I then went to Cleveland to try my luck at Progressive Field.  By the time I made it to the park, it was under a foot of snow.  I had been hoping to see a doubleheader with the Seattle Mariners being the away team.  Not the case, at least I parked at the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame and had something to do in Cleveland instead of watching baseball. Read the rest of this entry

Garrett Maines Interview: Jays Catcher Prospect- on that Minor League Grind Just Tryin to be Showbound!

Sunday February 26th, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:   When you think “Blue Jays catcher”, the names Arencibia and d’Arnaud. Arcencibia is the Jay’s power hitting major league catcher, who has quickly become a fan favorite in Toronto. Travis d’Arnaud is one of the Jays top prospects in the minors- and actually, one of the top prospects in the game, regardless of pitching. With the Jays as an organization having some of the best catching talent in baseball, we are ready to throw more names in the mix. Back in December, we interviewed Jays catcher George Carroll. Well, the Toronto Blue Jays have a serious catching factory going, as we were lucky to get some time to speak to catching prospect, Garrett Maines. 

Drafted by the Pirates in 2009, Garrett chose to finish in school and finish his degree (way to go Garrett!) In 2010, Garrett signed with the Jays, after playing a season of indy baseball. After getting his feet wet in the Gulf Coast League in 2010, Garrett made it to Canada in 2011…playing for the Vancouver Canadians of the NorthWest League. Garrett really delivered in his 2nd professional season. He showed good pop, with 4 home runs in only 27 games. He hit .263, with a .337 OBP and .500 SLG, helping lead the Canadians to a league title. Clearly, this kid has some serious pop in his bat! Now going into 2012 and coming off a championship year, Garrett is hungry for more. After a hard offseason of workouts and preparations, Garrett is ready for 2012. Ready to take the next steps in climbing up the Jays organization ladder. Ready to work hard, offensively and defensively in becoming a solid all-around catcher. Remember the name Garrett Maines- this Jays prospect is going places! And if you need some quality baseball bats, give Garrett’s grandma a call. He comes from a serious baseball family! Today on MLB reports, we are proud to feature our exclusive interview with the man behind the mask, Garrett Maines:

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Air Miles Can Save You a Fortune on Baseball Road Trips

Friday, February 17, 2012

Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth (Baseball Writer) With my apologies to our friends of the USA right off of the bat, this blog is geared towards Canadians who are familiar with Air Miles.  You might still want to read this since you probably know someone north of the border, or could score free ticket vouchers for the ‘Rogers Center in Toronto.’  For years I have traveled on heavy discounts from collecting Air Miles@ http://www.airmiles.ca. How do you do this you ask? Read the rest of this entry

Diamondbacks and Blue Jays Swap Second Basemen: Hill and McDonald for Johnson

Tuesday August 23, 2011

 

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB reports):  The Arizona Diamondbacks are in the middle of a pennant race in the National League West, and yet made a change with their second baseman, Kelly Johnson.  Statistics show that Johnson had been underperforming this year, and GM Kevin Towers said he wanted better defense and infield depth.  With that in mind, Towers got a hold of Toronto Blue Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos to inquire on super utility infielder John McDonald.  McDonald can play 2B, SS, and 3B at an above average level, although he doesn’t do much with the bat. With regular shortstop Stephen Drew lost for the season due to injury, the D’Backs have been forced to start Willie Bloomquist the majority of the games in his absence.  That led to talks involving Toronto’s longest tenured player, second baseman Aaron Hill.  The end result was Arizona acquiring Aaron Hill and John McDonald, with Kelly Johnson going to Toronto.

Aaron Hill had a terrific start to his career, which so far has peaked in 2009 when he hit .286 with 36 home runs and 108 RBI.  He was an All-Star and a Silver Slugger winner that year.  He plays good defense and is a well-liked guy in the clubhouse.  His contract situation is an iffy one, in that he has 2 option years left worth $8M each.  By the end of 2009, it would have been a lock that those options would have been picked up, however, 2010 and 2011 have not been so kind to Hill.  Last year he hit .205 with a walk rate of only 7.1%.  He at least was able to club 26 home runs, which are numbers he has not been able to replicate this year.  Hill in 2011 is walking in 5.4% of his plate appearances, and has only 6 home runs to go along with his paltry .225 average.

McDonald is arguably the most beloved player in Toronto, after Jose Bautista.  He routinely gets standing ovations, and this writer can proudly say one of his favourite moments in MLB history was watching McDonald hit a home run in his first at bat after missing a few games.  The significance was that his father had just passed away, and McDonald promised to hit a home run for him.  So on Father’s Day of 2010, McDonald crushed a home run over the left field wall.  The teary-eyed McDonald crossed the plate and was embraced by every member of the Blue Jays.  McDonald is a phenomenal defender, often used as a pinch runner in key situations, but doesn’t hit much. In his 13 seasons, he has only 21 home runs, with 12 of them coming in his last 3 seasons.   His value comes as a player that will give everything for his team, playing every position imaginable and making highlight reel plays.

Johnson is only a season removed from a .284/.370/.496 slash line, and although scouts often say his defense is sub par, the advanced metrics tell a different story.  His UZR was 7.1 last year, and 3.9 this year, where 0 is average.  Johnson’s production, like Hill, has fallen off the table.  He is still hitting home runs; 18 this year compared to 26 last year.  He takes walks, just under 11% for his career.  But his main problem has been the strikeouts.  This year has been worse than usual, as he has struck out in over 27% of his plate appearances.  Johnson’s line drive rate is just a tick below his career numbers, so his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) being 50 points lower than his career average is probably a good indicator of why his numbers are so low.

All three players are free agents at season’s end.   McDonald and Hill both said during their press conference today that they are very open to returning to Toronto in 2012.  Until then, the Diamondbacks will look to add to their 1.5 game lead over the San Francisco Giants with this move.  Should they be propelled to the playoffs, it is likely that an infield of Hill, McDonald, Lyle Overbay, and Ryan Roberts (all former Blue Jays) could face off against another former Jay in Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series.

This deal seems strange from a Diamondbacks perspective, as Hill is a downgrade from Johnson, even with the poor season Johnson has been having in 2011.  The amount of upside the Dbacks get from having McDonald over Bloomquist at shortstop is completely negated by this downgrade.  However, the Dbacks get two great clubhouse characters, who will surely help the club defensively and in teaching the younger players.  For the Blue Jays, this trade makes complete sense.  Johnson is currently set to be a Type B free agent at the end of the year, and with a hot streak, could become a Type A.  As a Type B, he would net the team a supplemental draft pick if he signs a major league deal with another team.  But if Johnson reaches Type A status this offseason, he will also net a first round pick on top of the supplemental pick.  The Jays can use this time to better evaluate Johnson, and by showing him what the organization has to offer, Johnson may sign with the team at the end of the year.

Aaron Hill and Kelly Johnson were two players that have been coveted by each team for the last couple of years, but no deal could have been struck.  However, with both players struggling so badly this year, both players were in need of a change of scenery.  A fresh start could do wonders for Hill as he could get back into the groove he was in before the 2010 season, while Johnson could return to his 2010 form.

So at the very worst, the Jays get an extra draft pick as part of this trade, and in many people’s opinions, they will also get McDonald back in 2012 to be their utility infielder.  For the Dbacks, Hill’s production could seriously limit their offense and push them out of a playoff spot.  Both teams are facing risks, but I believe Toronto’s level of risk was much lower, as they are not in a pennant race.  The upside potential of this trade for the Jays makes them the winner in my books.

 

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

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Interview with Toronto Blue Jays Prospect and 2010 Draftee: Art Charles

Thursday August 11, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:  Today on the Reports we are proud to feature Blue Jays prospect first baseman, Arthur Charles.  The 20-year old Charles was drafted by the Jays in the 20th round of the 2010 draft.  After being selected by the Orioles in 2008 and the Royals in 2009, Charles signed with Toronto and started his baseball journey last year.

At 6’6″ and weighing a solid 221 lbs, Charles projects to flash a great deal of power at the first base position for the Jays.  Currently playing for Bluefield in the Appalachian League, Charles has hit 10 home runs in 49 games, with an impressive .813 OPS.  Art is one of the most charistmatic players that we have interviewed on the Reports.  We can see him quickly becoming a fan favorite one day in Toronto.  A name to keep an eye on in the Blue Jays organization, the Reports is proud to present our interview with Arthur (Art) Charles:

 

MLB reports:  Welcome to the Reports Art.  Looking to the past, who was your favorite baseball player growing up, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?

Art CharlesMy favorite baseball players growing up would have to be Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds. These two sluggers were my idols and in whom I modified my game after.  Griffey instantly stood out to me because I liked his swing and tried to modify mine to look like his.  His swing was just so pure, smooth, and simple.  Barry Bonds was the same way I loved his swing and how he hit so many home runs.  I used to tell my friends that I would break his home run record and that one day I would be “that guy” in the big leagues hitting bombs and lasers everywhere in front of the world. 


 

MLB reports:  Great choices in Bonds and Griffey.  We have seen Griffey in particular as a popular choice amond players.  On the flipside, which current MLB star do you most admire and why?

Art CharlesThe current MLB player that I admire the most right now is Adrian Gonzalez.  I enjoy watching Adrian Gonzalez a lot because he is not only a very good hitter for the Red Sox, but he is a great defensive player as well.  His game is something that I now watch very closely for that reason.  I would like to be that kind of player, an all around player.  I want to be known as a threat and someone who will not only hit for power and average, but someone who has a golden glove at first base making plays and helping his team win on both sides, offensively and defensively.

 

MLB reports:  Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?

Art Charles:  My proudest accomplishment of my professional career would have to be hitting a walk-off home run to against the Bristol White Sox this year.  This moment isn’t just big for me because I hit the game winning home run ,but because there was a lesson to learn from it.  In the top of that inning we were tied and one of the Sox’s players hit a ground ball to me that I made an error on, to give them the go ahead run.  I was VERY disappointed, but I knew there was a chance that I would be up in the bottom half of the inning.  Although I was heated, I told myself I was going to get up when my team needed me and I was not going to let them down again.  I was going to win the game for us.  Staying focused and visualizing my at bat, mixed with a little anger, had gotten me mentally prepared for the moment.  It was a full count with two runners on and two outs, the kind of moment that you imagine when you are young.  I then saw a good pitch and didn’t miss it.  Instantly I knew I had just hit the game winning home run and met with my teammates at home plate to celebrate.  I even had the shaving cream pie treatment and that made it one of, if not the most, memorable moments of my life.

 

MLB reports:  A great experience Art.  Thank you for sharing it with us!  Reflecting back, what were your goals going into the 2011 season? 

Art Charles:  My goals going into this season were to have quality at bats, hit balls hard where ever they might go, make plays on defense, do my part to help my team win, improve my game for the next level (offensively and defensively), get a promotion to one of our other teams, be a threat every time I step to the plate, work hard at everything I do, and be consistent on a daily basis.  I knew that if I did all of those things, that the rest would take care of itself.  Meaning home runs, RBI’s, doubles, and making plays in the field would come.  I just wanted to make sure I took care of my business and controlled what I could control and let the rest fall into place.

 

MLB reports:  When you first found out you were drafted, what were your reactions?  Did those reactions change over time?  What was the process like being drafted originally by the Orioles in 2008 and Royals in 2009 and not signing with either team?  What made you decide to finally sign with the Jays in 2010?

Art Charles:  When being drafted I was beyond excited.  Being drafted three times by three different teams is not only an honor and an accomplishment, but also a very exciting and blessed process.  Every time I was drafted I was very happy.  The process of these drafts was very similar.  When I was first drafted in 2008 to the Orioles I was still young, at 17, and needed to mature more and really prepare myself; not ready to make that move.  In 2009 I was taken again to the Royals, but still the timing and things didn’t work out.  Going into the 2010 season I knew this was the year that I was ready to become a professional ball player and in the 2010 draft the Jays picked me up.  I felt this was a good fit for me and I was very comfortable with the scouts and staff I had met in the pre-draft workouts so I knew this was home.

 

MLB reports:  What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?

Art Charles:  I consider my greatest baseball skill to be hitting the baseball with power to all parts of the field.  I feel that hitting baseballs for power to all fields is what separates me from lots of other players, and its something that I will continue to do and get better at doing.

 

MLB reports:  What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?

Art Charles:  The parts of my game that I wish to improve on are every part of my game.  I feel I need to get better offensively and defensively if I am going to be the all around player that I wish to become.  Nothing in life comes easy and I learned that at a young age.  So I will continually work hard to better myself and separate myself from others.  To be the best I have to be, in fact better than the best.  So my speed, agility, offense, and defense all have to improve.

 

MLB reports:  How do strikeouts and walks figure into your game?  Do you see any of these items changing over time and to what degree?

Art Charles:  Strikeouts and walks are going to come.  They are both part of the game.  So far this season I have struck out more than I would have liked to, but that’s part of my learning process as a player.  With those strike outs I have learned about how I might be pitched in counts, to be patient and get good pitches to drive, to see pitches up, and much more.  It’s all part of the process that everyone goes through to get to the big leagues.  Walks are also going to occur and that will be because I’m not chasing pitches, I’m being patient, and seeing the ball up.  It’s easier said than done, but like I said it’s part of the process.

 

MLB reports:  Long term what position do you see yourself playing?  How do you see defense as part of your overall game?

Art Charles:  Long term I see myself in the big leagues as a power hitting first baseman.  I feel defense is just as important as hitting. I work on the both of them a lot because I know that if I want to become the player I envision myself becoming, I need to be good around the bag, pick up my teammates, and make plays.  I feel that I am still improving defensively and will continue to get better.  Defense is definitely part of my game I want polish.

 

MLB reports:  If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?

Art Charles:  If I could look into a crystal ball and see my expected time in the big leagues, I don’t know yet what I would see.  I would like to be there within three years, but I am young and have a lot to work on and lots of improving to do.  So I do not know at this moment what my expected time would be.  There isn’t really one thing in particular to say I would need most to get there because to get to the highest level, you need it all.

 

MLB reports:  Has pro ball been everything you expected it to be thus far?  What are some of the highs and lows you have experienced thus far?

Art Charles:  Pro ball has been everything I expected it to be and more.  I can’t say there are any lows because I love what I do and I haven’t had any really long bus rides yet.   But there are plenty of highs.  One being which seeing myself improve as a player.  There are many experiences playing that I have now, such as walk off wins, playoff pushes, fans, signing balls and playing for great skippers.  Did I say the fans?  I would have to say that one of my favorite things was having a little boy write me a letter thanking me for a handshake and telling me I was his favorite player.  The fans are what make this game that much more fun and signing balls, bats, cards, and shirts was a great experience for me.

 

MLB reports:  What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball?  Best friend(s) on the team that you most hang out with and what do you guys like to do to chill?

Art Charles:  On a day off or after the game I like to lay down and relax to recharge my batteries a bit, listen to music, vibe out, stay up on my tweet game (@SirArthurC), talk to my family, and play Call of Duty (a favorite among players).  Sometimes the guys will come to my room and we play video games or go to the mall.  I have tons of movies so we watch movies, or play cards.  The guys that you will probably catch me with the most are Aaron Sanchez, Christopher Hawkins, Cody Bartlett, Myles Jaye, Les Williams, or Noah Syndergaard.

 

MLB reports:  Have you visited Toronto the city yet?  How have you found the city thus far?

Art Charles:  I have been to Toronto for a pre-draft workout in the Rogers Centre last year and it was a lovely place.  I really enjoyed my brief stay, very nice city and even better people.  The Rogers Centre was great and an unbelievable stadium.

 

MLB reports:  If you could send one message to the Toronto Blue Jays fans, what would it be?

Art Charles:  My message to the fans would be thank you for the love and support.  It is very much appreciated and not forgotten.  You guys are the best!

 

MLB reports:  A big thank you to Art Charles for joining us today on the Reports.  We wish you the best of luck on your baseball journey towards joining the Jays in Toronto one day.  We definitely encourage all our readers to feel free to contact Art with your comments and questions on his Twitter handle.  Art is very active on Twitter and is a must follow!

 

 

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On the Verge: Brett Lawrie Call Up by Jays is Imminent

Thursday August 4, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports):  The Brett Lawrie rollercoaster started December 6th, 2010.  Lawrie was sent to Toronto in exchange for Toronto’s incumbent ace, Shaun Marcum.  Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos immediately said that Lawrie would be working out at third base, switching from second base.  This would be Lawrie’s third major position change in 3 years.  He was drafted out of Langley, BC by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1st round (16th overall) of the 2008 MLB draft.  That year, Toronto held the 17th pick, and it was said that they coveted him greatly.  They instead had to settle for college first baseman and current AAA prospect, David Cooper.

Lawrie hit .293 in spring training this year, while playing decent enough third base to warrant a discussion of keeping him on the roster.  However, Anthopoulos deemed he was not ready to play in the Major Leagues, and the fans in Toronto grumbled as the Blue Jays consistently put Edwin Encarnacion at third base to start the year.  Lawrie started off hot in AAA Las Vegas, and played good defense.  This still wasn’t enough, as the Jays asked him to be more patient and change his approach.  Lawrie did just that, and by May 31st, was hitting over .350 with power and walking more often than he had in the past.  When the Jays were on the brink of calling him up (see our Report from June 2nd), Lawrie was hit by an errant pitch on the back of his left hand.  Blue Jays fans collectively held their breath, and Lawrie declared it was a bruise.  Two days later when swelling subsided, it was found out that Lawrie had a non-displaced fracture.

When he finally returned to Las Vegas in the middle of July, Lawrie came right back to where he left off.  He is now hitting .352 with 18 home runs and 61 RBI.  More importantly, he has 26 walks and is playing much improved defense.  Now, the Jays’ faithful are continuing to call for him.  Anthopoulos and manager John Farrell have repeatedly said “he’s close” and that they want to get him everyday at bats before rosters expand in September.

Now, when Lawrie gets the inevitable call (my guess being Friday, August 5th, before the beginning of a road series in Baltimore), where will he play?  The Jays have Jose Bautista, one of the top three players in baseball at third base.  Well, the plan that Anthopoulos has set out is that Bautista would shift back to his preferred right field, creating a logjam of young and talented outfielders.  Travis Snider is 23 years old and he will play every day at one of the corner positions.  Colby Rasmus is 24 years old and will be in center for the foreseeable future.  That leaves Eric Thames, also 24, the corner outfielder who came out of seemingly nowhere to win the love and admiration of many fans, on the bench.  You could say that Thames can just DH because he isn’t the best fielder of the bunch (although more than adequate and constantly improving), but where does Edwin Encarnacion play then?  Encarnacion is one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball since the beginning of July.  He has 9 doubles, 4 home runs, and 14 RBI with 12 walks in 25 games over that span.  Thames most likely gets optioned to AAA to get every day at bats until rosters expand in September.  Here is how that lineup stacks up.

Yunel Escobar – SS
Colby Rasmus – CF
Jose Bautista – RF
Adam Lind – 1B
Edwin Encarnacion – DH
Travis Snider – LF
Brett Lawrie – 3B
J.P. Arencibia – C
Aaron Hill –  2B

If one of these players is traded, then there won’t be a problem.  The only other option barring a trade, is something that Anthopoulos has stated adamantly will not happen.  Moving Lawrie to second base and sitting former Silver Slugger Aaron Hill on the bench.  This could possibly be the best option available for both the short-term and long-term.  With Hill underperforming (ranked 20th out of 21 qualified 2nd baseman in WAR), and his $8M option for 2012 likely to be declined, Lawrie could slot into that spot for a very long time.  Anthopoulos has preached having talent and skill “in the middle of the diamond” and second base is a spot that sorely needs some stability after Hill’s last two years.  The only thing that could stop this movement is if Anthopoulos sees Hill, who is a good defender, as a guy who can turn his career back around.  If Hill were placed in the 9 hole, and changed his approach, he could be a very serviceable player there.  One idea that has been bandied around is that the Jays decline the option on Hill, and sign him to a much smaller deal to bring him back as the second baseman.

I honestly believe that Anthopoulos has the wheels turning, and with Encarnacion being so hot, many teams would love to take him on to make a push for the playoffs.  If Encarnacion is not in the picture, there is a spot for Thames as a full-time player.  He and Snider would probably split time between left field and DH, with Bautista in right, and Lawrie at third.

What gets lost in all of this, is that the Opening Day center fielder, might become a 5th outfielder.  Rajai Davis  has 33 stolen bases, and is playing better in a part-time role since Rasmus joined the team.  He will be reserved to being a pinch runner, and possibly a late inning defensive replacement for Thames.

The odd man out for this year seems to be Thames, even though the Blue Jays see him as a valuable asset for the long-term.  Whether that means for him to be on the field, or using him as a trade chip remains to be seen.  Lawrie will likely end up playing third base every day, proving why the Jays gave up Marcum for an unproven “troubled” prospect. 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  We highly encourge you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

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Brett Lawrie: On the Verge of Joining the Toronto Blue Jays

Thursday June 2, 2011

 

MLB reports:   There is often a misconception in baseball that news and events from north of the border is often ignored.  Around the Rogers Centre, there has been a strong buzz for weeks anticipating the arrival of the Blue Jays top prospect.  At the tender age of 21, Brett Lawrie, the third baseman of the future for the Jays is about to arrive.  But news of Lawrie’s impending promotion has spread beyond the media in Toronto and Las Vegas, the Jays AAA affiliate.  The MLB community is talking, from Seattle to Washington, and Milwaukee to Florida.  Everyone wants to know the same thing:  When is Brett Lawrie getting the call?

Brett Lawrie was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers of the first round of the 2008 draft, going 16th overall.  The team picking next?  Ironically enough, the Toronto Blue Jays.  With the 17th pick, the Jays went with first baseman David Cooper.  The Jays had their eye on Lawrie and were all set to draft the British Columbia native Lawrie.  But with Milwaukee having Canadians Doug Melvin and Gord Ash in its front office, the Brewers with a strong scouting presence in Canada were all over Lawrie.  Milwaukee in 2008 made Lawrie the highest drafted Canadian born position player in major league history and fourth overall, behind Jeff Francis, Adam Loewen and Philippe Aumont.  But the Jays never lost their interest in Lawrie and on December 6, 2010, Lawrie was finally coming home.

Last winter, Lawrie was moved from Milwaukee to Toronto in a straight exchange for Jays ace hurler, Shaun Marcum.  Coming off arm issues and a missed 2009 season, Marcum bounced back during the 2010 season with 13 wins and almost 200 innings pitched.  Now due for arbitration, the Jays capitalized on Marcum’s success to land the player they coveted for some time.  Lawrie immediately moved from 2nd to 3rd and became the Jays third baseman of the future.  But at 21-years of age, Lawrie was still in need of more experience and seasoning.  After a fairly solid AA campaign in Huntsville, Lawrie was expected to repeat AA with the Blue Jays and slowly move to AAA near the end of the year.  But that all changed come spring training.

After a solid spring campaign, there was a buzz around baseball that Lawrie almost made the Blue Jays team in time for opening day.  But with Edwin Encarnacion on the roster, the Jays decided that the major league roster had its stop-gap solution until Lawrie was ready.  Given his strong spring though, the Jays organization reasoned that Lawrie was ready for increased competition and designated him to AAA Las Vegas to start the campaign.  Looking at the numbers, Lawrie has flourished.  Going into today, Lawrie has a .354 AVG, .415 OBP, .677 SLG, 15 home runs, 19 doubles, 49 RBIs, 51 runs, and has been successful on 11/12 stolen base chances.  All of this accomplished in only 52 games played.  Granted, Las Vegas is known as a hitters park and the 51s play in the Pacific Coast League, a notorious slugging league.  Lawrie though has earned his shot and this was week was all set to get the call.  Media outlets reported that Lawrie, together with Adam Lind would be joining the Jays on Friday.  But this past Tuesday night, Lawrie was hit on the hand and everything changed.

The Blue Jays and the collective baseball world held its breath as Lawrie’s left hand was x-rayed.  The results came back negative and fortunately only a bruise.  However, with a deep hand bruise, Lawrie’s promotion has temporarily been placed on hold.  As with all good things in life, the best things come to those that wait.  While surely disappointed at his misfortune, at this point Lawrie just has to come back and prove health in order to make his long-awaited major league debut.

Fantasy baseball players especially have been contacting me to find out my predictions as to how Lawrie will fare when he finally joins the Jays.  My response has been that he will play at third base when given the call and likely stay there for the next decade or so.  But fans of the game have a way of getting excited about MLB prospects, which is great for the game but creates some unrealistic expectations some times on the players.  Looking at Lawrie’s stats, I noticed that he had  47/118 BB/K in 2010 and this year sits at 18/40 BB/K.  Lawrie with a career .294 AVG in the minors clearly has a strong bat.  Now he just has to develop his batting eye.  Coming to the majors, he might be a little slow out of the gate as he gets his feet wet.  A .250-.260 AVG is a realistic prediction at this stage of his career, but may not be enough to satisfy the demands of his loyal followers.  People may expect the world from Lawrie with all the hype surrounding him, but let’s remember that he is still only 21 and maturing as baseball player and person.  Coupled together with his defensive shift from 2nd to 3rd, it has been a season of adjustments for him.  But Lawrie has shown the superstar potential and earned the call to the big leagues.

We will follow this story for you as it develops and continue the Reports as Lawrie is likely to join the Blue Jays next week.  After landing in Toronto, the future for Brett Lawrie is wide open.  He could be here to stay or may need to bounce a little between Toronto and Las Vegas before he establishes himself.  Look no farther than another one time can’t miss Toronto prospect, Travis Snider.  For the last two seasons, Snider made the team out of spring training with high expectations, only to land back in Las Vegas to work on his game.  The baseball world looks forward to the arrival of Brett Lawrie and the next “can’t miss” prospect.  After all the talk and hype, the moment of truth is almost upon us.

 

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MLB Scores and Player Highlights from Monday April 11th

MLB reports:  A roundup of all the results from yesterday’s MLB action and the players that shined and ones that did not quite perform as well:

Rangers 2- Tigers 0:  The Rangers moved to 9-1 on the season while the Tigers fell to a dismal 3-7.  Alexi Ogando, the former Rule 5 pickup, upped his record to 2-0 and no runs earned on the season.  The entire Rangers pitching corps has been dominant all season and in this game Oliver got his 4th hold and Feliz with his 4th save already.  Verlander went the distant in the tough loss and now has a 3.13 ERA on the season.  Cabrera with two hits for the Tigers is now hitting .382 on the season, while Peralta is at .344.

Rockies 7- Mets 6:  The Rockies won a thriller decided in the 8th inning and are now 7-2 on the season.  Mets are still treading at 4-6.  Houston Street picked up his 5th save on the season.  Both starters, Jason Hammel and Mike Pelfrey pitched ok but nothing spectacular.  Tulowitzki hitting cleanup hit his 4th home run of the year while Carlos Gonzalez had 3 ribbies in the 3rd spot for the Rockies.  David Wright replied with his own long ball, 2nd of the season and Jose Reyes tripled among his 2 hits for the Mets.  Reyes at .340, Wright at .325 and Davis at .351 are all positive signs for the rebuilding Mets.

Rays 16- Red Sox 5:  At equivalent 2-8 records, two of the best teams in baseball have been slow out of the game.  On this day the Rays brought out their whipping sticks to take it to the Sox.  Matsuzaka, Wakefield and Wheeler all got beaten early and often, while Hellickson despite giving up five walks in 5.1 innings pitched two run ball for the win.  The big story was Sam Fuld, with 2 doubles, a triple and home run (so close to a cycle) from the leadoff spot for the Rays.  A throw-in as part of the Matt Garza trade, Fuld was the hero in this game.  The Rays pounded to the Red Sox for 20 hits, as Damon, Zobrist, Upton, Jaso and Brignac all had big games.  Crawford had two hits for the Sox in the leadoff spot and Ellsbury hit his 2nd home run of the year.

Cubs 5- Astros 4:  In a battle of central division rivals, the Cubs record is now 5-5 while the rebuilding Astros are at 2-8.  Ryan Dempster gave up 4 runs but had 9 SO in his first win of the year, while Marmol is now up to 4 saves.  Figueroa gave up 5 runs in 4 innings for the loss.  Castro had 3 hits for the Cubs in the leadoff spot and stole his first base.  Alfonso Soriano chipped in with a couple of RBIs for the Cubs. 

Athletics 2- White Sox 1:  The Athletics moved to 5-5 on the year while the White Sox felt to 6-4.  In a tough matchup, Dallas Braden pitched one run ball over six innings with seven SO, while Brian Fuentes got his 4th save of the year.  Mark Buehrle pitched 8 shutout innings and left with a no-decision.  Kurt Suzuki had two hits, including his first home run of the season, for an Oakland team that is still having a difficult time generating much offense.  Lillibridge had his first home run of the year for the White Sox.

Cardinals 8- Diamondbacks 2:  Within 4 wins apiece on the season, the Cardinals finally had a strong offensive showing against a decent Arizona squad.  Kyle McLellan, pitching Dave Duncan style ball, gave up one run over six innings for his first win of the year.  The star was Lance Berkman, with 2 home runs and 3 RBIs in the 5th spot.  Albert Pujols remains at an unsightly .150 average.

Reds 3- Padres 2:  The high-flying Reds are now 7-3 on the season, beating a tough Matt Latos and Padres team that is now 4-5.  Fantasy Ace Latos in his first start of the year gave up 3 runs in 6 innings with 7 SO.  Volquez moved to 2-0 by giving up 2 runs over 6 innings with 5 So, but remains with a 5.82 ERA.  Cookie Cordero got his 2nd save of the season.  Gomes got his 3rd home run of the young season while Brandon Phillips is hitting .410 on the season and Votto is at .444.  Orlando Hudson at 2 hits and is now at .313 for an otherwise dismal Padres offense.

Cleveland 4- Angels 0:  The 8-2 Indians, led by Willy Mays Hayes and Wild Thing are hot to start the year (major league 4?)  The Angels, after taking 2 out of 3 against Toronto now stand at 5-5.  Mitch Talbot pitched 8 shutout innings for the win, while Tyler Chatwood (who? exactly) took the loss.  Scott Downs, back off the DL pitched an inning for the Angels.  Asdrubal Cabrera is up to 4 home runs on the year (wow!) and Matt LaPorta had a 3-run bomb for the Indians.  Travis Hafner, by the way is up to a .355 average on the year and Orlando Cabrera is hitting .361.  The Angels only managed 5 hits as a team and 2 total walks, all from Bobby Abreu.  For those following my Vernon Wells watch:  Again hitting 5th as he has all year.  Another 0-4, average down to .091.  I believe a benching and move down the lineup is in order if the Angels hope to ignite their offense.  Callaspo at .353 and Trumbo with his strong power need to move up in the order.

Mariners 8- Jays 7:  In the shocker of the night, the Jays had a 7-0 lead after 6 and 7-1 lead after 7 and still managed to lose 8-7 in the 9th.  The hometown Mariners are still a low 3-7 on the year while the Jays are at an even 5-5.  Jesse Litsch pitched 5 shutout innings for the no-decision but played with fire all night with 4 walks and 5 hits given up.  Purcey, Dotel and Camp all got hit hard as the Jays bullpen imploded in Seattle.  The King was not his usual majestic self and gave up 7 runs and 12 hits in his own no-decision.  Milton Bradley got 2 hits including his first home run of the year.  Rodriguez had 3 RBIs and Justin Smoak finished with 2 hits and 2 walks.  Corey Patterson in his first game as a Jay hit a home run, while Encarnacion and Nix both had 3 hits each.  Adam Lind was 0-5 with 3 SO while Jose Bautista was 2-3 with 2 walks.

Dodgers 6- Giants 1:  In the final game of the night, the Dodgers moved to 6-4 while the World Series Champions Giants moved to 4-6.  Clayton Kershaw was his usual dominant self, pitching 6.2 shutout innings with 7 SO for his 2nd win of the year.  Madison Bumgarner has been slow out of the gates again, falling to 0-2 with 5 runs given up in 5 innings.  Andre Ethier was 2-4 with 2 RBIs and is up to a strong .368 on the season, while Matt Kemp went 1-2 and continued to show a good eye with 2 walks and is at an outstanding .441 on the season.  These 2 young hitters are truly coming into their own and Kemp is finally living up to his “Baby Manny” nickname from his rookie season, minus the issues.  Huff and Burrell both had 2 hits for the Giants, Burrell with his 4th home run and had 2 walks as well, despite hitting .222 on the year.  Posey is at .250 on the season while Brandon Belt is going to be packing his bags soon for AAA with his .143 average on the year.  A strong player and future star for the Giants, it appears some seasoning is still required for the youngster. 

 

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