Toronto Blue Jays: Clubhouse Cohesion, New Faces, And The World Baseball Classic
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Monday, February 18th, 2013
By Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Toronto Blue Jays Correspondent) Follow @mednickalex
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:
The Toronto Blue Jays Franchise 1994-2012: Part 2 of a 7 Part Series
Wednesday, Nov.28th, 2012
Note from Chuck Booth: I am attempting to bring the history for each of the 30 MLB Franchises into a 5-7 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.
Today’s Part 2 Feature of the Blue Jays Franchise will be written by our Baseball Writer Alex Mednick. To do this franchise series service, Alex has studied this club a lot more than I have in the last 20 years and will do this article better justice for you the reader!
Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst):
Note from Alex Mednick: Chuck Booth offered to me the opportunity to step in to his Franchise Series and cover the Blue Jays history from 1994-Present. I gladly accepted the honor.
In Part 1 of this series, Chuck covered the Blue Jays history from their humble beginnings at Exhibition Stadium in 1977, through the glory years in the late 80s and early 90s. The story dropped off right after the Blue Jays won back-to-back World Championships in 1992 and 1993. We closed the books with the walk-off winning home run by Joe Carter to win the World Series, and the parties and celebrations that were to follow across Ontario, Canada. I will pick it back up at the beginning of the 1994 season, when the Blue Jays had high hopes to win a third consecutive world championship.
(Scroll Down Past the Links or Click the READ MORE OF THIS ENTRY ICON.)
Franchise Series Links:
Franchise History Part 1 1977-1993: https://mlbreports.com/2012/11/09/jays1/
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
2013 Team Payroll: https://mlbreports.com/2012/09/10/tor/
Special Bonus Fan Blog Of 2013 Team Payroll: https://mlbreports.com/2012/09/12/torfanalex/
Part 1 of a Series: All-Time All-Star Teams By Regionality
Friday November 23th, 2012
Note from Alex Mednick: I am going to be putting together a small project that accumulates all the best players of all time, and puts them together on teams according to their birthplace. For example, in this first edition I will be breaking down players from the United States of America into teams from the 1) Northeast, 2) Southeast, 3) Midwest, and 4) Southwest…(sorry, there really is not enough quality coming out of the northwest to compete with these teams…maybe I will put a Northwestern United States team in a later edition with less competitive teams). Later on I will bring you teams assembled from the all-time greats out Central and South American (Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, Panama Canal Zone, etc.) and the All-Caribbean Team (Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Curacao, etc). Also look forward to teams from Japan, Canada and the EU. Should be fun to sort of assemble an “Olympics” of Baseball. I love watching the World Baseball Classic and seeing players fight for their nations pride…but by grouping the teams by region, it might make the teams more competitive. Of course, this is all for the sake of speculation; Babe Ruth was a great player, but I don’t think he will be taking any at-bat’s soon. (Also, please note that I do not lend consideration to relief pitchers in this analysis). Read the rest of this entry
Melk! It’s Good For Your Outfield: Where Does Toronto’s New Outfield Stand?
Thursday, November 22nd, 2013
Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst)
Since the Blue Jays and Marlins blockbuster trade, there has been a lot of discussion about Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. Jose Reyes is going to have an amazing presence at the top of the lineup, getting on base, steal bases and playing beautiful shortstop on the left side of the infield with Brett Lawrie for the Blue Jays ground ball pitchers. Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle immediately make the Blue Jays rotation a top rotation in all of baseball by being inserted in. Effectively, they got two top of the line starters to create an elite rotation that makes them serious contenders.
Alex Mednick (Blue Jays Fan and Writer for MLB Reports): Gibbons May Work Out!
Tuesday November 20th, 2013
Note from Lead Writer Chuck Booth: Just to be fair on this whole John Gibbons hire, I am posting this article written by my fellow colleague/Baseball Writer at the MLB Reports) in order to give a different vantage point. Alex is a Blue Jays fan, so he has a passion for the team. His thoughts are of his own and while I may not agree with his opinion, that is okay. That is why we all have our own minds and are not all sheep! So here is his article (based on a question he answered on my previous piece this morning.)
Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst):
I responded to our Lead Baseball Writers Message about not liking the Gibbons hiring in this article earlier today here.
It was, frankly, my initial reaction as well..I was not pleased when I first read this news about Gibbons. I think AA also realizes the consequences of spending his bosses money and then making a poor decision. If it does not pan out, it could mean his job…AA is not untouchable, even though there has been a demi-god status applied to him. Bosses don’t like when you squander their money…period.
But for some reason I am intrigued by this hiring. I was absolutely fed up with the Ricciardi/Gibbons regime, and thought that they should have been fired 2 years before they were. But Gibbons acted largely as the puppet of an egotistical, and nonsensical J.P. Ricciardi, which I can attribute to a lot the reasons he was criticized. There is no doubt, even though managers do not take any at bats themselves, they have a large impact on the team. Look at Bobby V and Boston.
I think that Gibbons was a stooge for JP Ricciardi and that is part of why he is so attractive to AA. AA actually stated during the hiring process he was looking for someone who could fall in line with his and the organization’s theory. Farrell was the opposite of that, a free thinking executive type, who also seemed disinterested in the organization as a whole. He didn’t take the job seriously.
Florida Baseball and The San Juan Rays
Thursday November 15th, 2012
Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst)
Last week Jonathan Hacohen, the founder of MLBReports.com called to my attention that the Tampa Bay Rays are an anomaly. Ultimately, if you look at the way their team is structured and where their talent lays, and the kind of game that Joe Maddon manages the Rays are ultimately a National League team; displaced in the AL East. The Rays greatest strength is their depth of pitching that they can reach into the bowels of an amazing farm system ripe with young talent. But from there on out, they rely on an offense that generates runs due to other inefficiencies.
With B.J. Upton leaving town, and Carlos Pena only a carcass of what he once was, there is ultimately zero power left in their lineup. Their DH for the past two years have been the likes of an aging Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Luke Scott. Ownership is constantly complaining about attendance and looking for bargain free agents like Johnny Damon to bring in at the end of their careers and hopefully attract some Yankees and Red Sox fans to the stadium.
At this point, the Rays power hitters are Evan Longoria, Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist. They have an amazing nucleus of pitching talent, including David Price who just won the AL Cy Young, and they are mentioning trading almost all of their starting pitchers. This is understandable, as you have to dish out talent to bring back offensive talent that they are in great need of. But I still have major gripes with the way owner Stuart Sternberg has approached the past 4 seasons in St. Petersburg, and I will get into more detail about this in a little while. Read the rest of this entry
Philadelphia Phillies: Brotherly Love and the Upton Brothers
Saturday November 3rd, 2012
Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer): Both B.J. Upton and his younger brother Justin will be available this offseason. Bossman Junior (B.J.) will be a top centerfield free agent option, and Justin signed a lucrative 6-year deal just two years ago, is widely known to be on the trading block from Arizona. The Upton brothers are the two highest drafted brothers in sports history. B.J. was a second overall pick in 2002 and Justin, the first overall pick of the 2005 draft. They have both had ups and downs in their young careers, but both have performed extremely well and shown glimpses of brilliance. Justin has already cashed in on his first big major league contract, and B.J. is looking to so this offseason. Where B.J. will sign, we will find out over the next months. But one thing that is clear…he makes since for just about any team out there.
The Philadelphia Phillies are one of those teams that could envision B.J. Upton gracefully patrolling centerfield for 162 games. As a premier center fielder facing free agency, B.J. as become far too expensive a commodity for the Rays to retain going forward. He plays top-notch defense in centerfield and has a cannon for an arm. All he did in 2012 as 27-year-old (in his 8th year in the MLB) was hit 29 doubles, 28 home runs and steal 31 bags. Yes, with this amazing tool set that combines defense with speed and power comes a lifetime .255 batting average and about 150 strikeouts a year. There are weaknesses in every player’s game, but B.J. Upton’s strengths make him a very attractive target for any team that doesn’t have Joe DiMaggio manning centerfield.
There is no doubt that B.J.’s speed and power will fit very nicely into the Phillies lineup along with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. We have to also consider what it is going to take to get B.J. signed to a contract. Right now, we know that the Tampa Bay Rays have offered B.J. a qualifying offer. While the chances of B.J. agreeing to this are virtually ‘zero’, it does mean that whoever signs B.J. is going to have to sacrifice their first round draft pick next year to Tampa. For a team like Philadelphia that can afford to sign top free agents, giving up a top prospect is an acceptable part of doing business. Read the rest of this entry
Baseball’s Best Bullpen: Arizona Diamondbacks
Friday November 2nd, 2012
Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst):
In 2011, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a really nice push in the AL West and finished with 94 wins, 8 games ahead of the second place San Francisco Giants. They performed well above expectations, and they did so with a relatively unglamorous starting rotation, that consisted mainly of Ian Kennedy, Joe Saunders, Josh Collmenter, Daniel Hudson and a revolving 5th starter. What really carried the team in 2011 and made the Arizona Diamondbacks a competitive in 2011, happened to be their weakest link in their miserable 2010 season: the bullpen.
The Diamondbacks won 29 more games in 2011 than they did in 2010. The most drastic changes made by the organization were in the bullpen where the D-Back’s added closer J.J. Putz and setup man David Hernandez. The 2011 bullpen allowed 100 fewer runs than their predecessors in 2010 and dropped their group ERA from 5.74 in 2010 to just 3.71 in 2011. It goes without saying that their newly revamped bullpen allowed Arizona to stay close in a lot more games and gave them a better chance to be winners.
Following their great 2011 season, the D-Back’s found themselves reverting back to their former ways in 2012. Finishing 13 games behind the first place Giants, and just barely hanging on to a .500 record, the Diamondback’s finished 81-81. You want to know something interesting? It was their bullpen, once again, that failed. Read the rest of this entry
What 2012 Really Meant to the St. Louis Cardinals
Thursday November 1st, 2012
Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer)
The St. Louis Cardinals came into 2012 as the defending World Series Champions. In 2011 they just eked their way into the post season on the final day of the regular season when they defeated the Houston Astros and the Braves, who were tied for the wild card spot with St. Louis, ended up losing to the Phillies in extra innings. Coming into the 2011 postseason, the Cardinals were huge underdogs. That didn’t stop them from going for what they wanted: to win it all.
While most analysts amongst the sport would not have guessed St. Louis would even make it to the World Series, yet alone win it, the Red Birds emerged to show their true colors. The current team that the city of St. Louis has assembled and gets to watch for 81 games a year is, undoubtedly, a team that plays on all cylinders and the highest octane fuel. They play with the intensity of a little league team that wants nothing more than the coach to bring them out for ice cream when they win. Watching the Cardinals brand of baseball is to watch baseball again as a game, and not just as a competition played by millionaire athletes with tremendous talent.
Watching the scrappiness of St. Louis native David Freese in the 2011 playoffs is the perfect example. His David Eckstein-like approach to the game reminds us all of one of our teammates back in middle school. The one at the sandlot that always slid hard, tried to steal home, and complained when the rest of us wanted to go home because “it was getting dark”. In 2011, David Freese and his 39 teammates played baseball together as a true team and sent Tony LaRussa home with a World Series title in his final year managing. Read the rest of this entry
2012 MLB Postseason Preview: Every Pitch Counts
Thursday, October 4th, 2012
Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer):
With the last games of the 2012 regular season being officially completed yesterday I get the same feeling I do every season…it’s a sickening pain in my stomach, that makes me want to hibernate and not wake up until April comes around. For baseball lovers, we are all very familiar with this feeling. We find solace in the fact that with the exception of the month of November, we can still follow baseball transactions all year-long. Furthermore, we cannot get too upset; baseball isn’t really over. In fact, some might argue that it is just beginning!
The boys of summer play all those games in the summer heat for one reason. The grueling 162 game schedule sees many ups and many downs, and all of these challenges are met with a firm resolve: to do whatever it takes to get to the postseason. October is the time when the weather turns cold, and ball players become unshaven warriors duking it out to be the victorious few who have the honor to take a championship ring home this offseason. Read the rest of this entry
Miguel Cabrera: Baseball Royalty is Ready to Take the AL Triple Crown and a Spot in Cooperstown
Tuesday September 25, 2012
Alex Mednick: 1967 was the year that boxer Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing world championship because he refused to join the U.S. Army. There were 475,000 US Troops in Vietnam. The Beatles had just come out with Sargeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Woodstock music festival was still 2 years away. Never had a man stepped foot on the moon, a gallon of gas cost $0.33 and Federal Minimum Wage was $1.40 per hour. It was also the last time that any professional ballplayer was awarded the triple crown: Carl Yastrzemski.
Here we are, in present day 2012, and 29-year-old phenom Miguel Cabrera is vying to be the first man to hit for the triple crown since 1967…after almost a half century. Back in 1998 when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire reignited national interest in our pastime, they were pursuing Roger Maris’ single season record for most home runs. Without deducting any valor from the record which I believe still belongs to Mr. Maris, the triple crown does not only take home run power into consideration; rather the triple crown validates a hitter based upon the three most important (Sabremetrician’s may disagree) measures of a hitters overall productivity. Read the rest of this entry
The Blue Jays Payroll 2013: A Reader’s thoughts On The Jays Part 7 of a 7 Article Series
Note from Chuck Booth: Sometimes at the Reports, we are fortunate to have someone take out some serious time to write a huge-detailed explanation of their thoughts on a piece we have written about. I was blown away by the enthusiasm of one of these such readers. Alex Mednick and I started back and forth on the piece I wrote about the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays and I suggested that we should give his analysis a full appreciation by posting it in a guest column for him, So this is Alex’s guest column:
Alex Mednick: (Special Guest Writer):
Update after the Nov.13 Trade with Miami:
Man, I gotta say…The move with the Miami Marlins made by the Blue Jays shows that management want’s to play ball. Signing Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle give the Blue Jays two bonafide front-end starters to add into the mix in 2013. With a healthy year from Johnson and Morrow, you’ve got to guys with electric stuff going 1-2, and Buehrle is about as solid of a #3 any team could wish for. Romero in the number 4 slot, takes a lot of pressure off of him to bounce back, and even if he can simply perform at 90% of what he is capable of…it’s a pretty sight for the Blue Jays to have this kind of rotation in the AL East. Management definitely quieted some dubious fans and put it’s money where it’s mouth is!
The signing of 29 year old Jose Reyes gives the Blue Jays a superstar shortstop up the middle for the next 5 years. A guy to lead off who gets on base and steals 40+ bases a year will be very nice to set up the table for Bautista, Encarnacaion and Lawrie. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jays still added some more pop to the lineup by trading for an offensively minded left fielder or DH.
The Blue Jays inherited a lot of salary from the deal, but only parted with a few prospects from their deep farm system (Nicolino…one of the Big 3 pitchers, Hechevarria, and Marisnick). They now have Bonifacio and Izturis at 2nd base who are nearly identical players and can deal from a sudden strength there in a emaciated 2nd base market…and they have a plethora of catchers in another thin market, that they can trade. Not to mention the remainder of their extensively talented farm system which they can use as trade bait.
I don’t think the Blue Jays are happy with expecting Adam Lind to bounce back, and I’m unsure whether they are comfortable with Gose/Rasmus in CF either so I would expect them to bring in another outfielder or DH. They already have incredible speed on the basepaths between Gose, Lawrie, Bonifacio, Reyes and Davis.
They may still go after ANOTHER pitcher in the mold of Edwin Jackson, but it is doubtful that they want to spend any more money on the rotation after acquiring Johnson and Buehrle. If they did anything it would likely be via trade, but why when they have Drew Hutchinson, Kyle Drabek, JA Happ and a bunch of other great 5th starter possibilities laying in wait? They are more likely at this point to use trading chips for offense/and or bench players.
The Blue Jays finally made a bold move that shows they recognize that with their current players/contracts/core and the current health of the AL East…the time to strike was now…we couldn’t continue to wait for a rich farm to develop and then harvest. Who would have ever guessed that the two front end starters we required this offseason would come in a single trade? Out of nowhere! And we knew that Yunel Escobar was on the trading block, but we never would have expected to have a Super Star like Jose Reyes at SS for the next 5 years? I know the Blue Jays inquired on Reyes last year during the offseason, but wow…All we can say is “Thank you Mr. Loria”.
I really enjoyed your analysis of the Blue Jays future (for that blog click here ) along with your digest of the various possibilities and directions that may chose going forward.
Furthermore, you hit the nail on the head: When Alex Anthopoulos inherited this team from J.P. Ricciardi, he was merely a protégé of a failed, and over-hyped GM (Ricciardi), who was the protégé of Billy Beane…possibly also “over-hyped”. If Anthopoulos learned anything from his time working under J.P. Ricciardi, and his time sweeping floors in Montreal it may have been this: “While some people may quantify your value based on perceived potential, it is best to quantify yourself on what you have actually done”. Therefore, Anthoploulos wasted no time making moves and proving to all of Canada (along with most of baseball) that he truly is a Ninja. Somehow, someway…he was able to convince the Angels brass, and the ChiSox to fill in the holes that Ricciardi had dug with contract extensions to Vernon Wells and Alex Rios (respectively).
For Part 1 of a 7 Part Article Series: The Toronto Blue Jays Franchise 1977-1993, click here
For Part 6 of the 7 Part Series: Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll Click here:
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