Sunday, December 21, 2014

VIDEO: Watch a Drone Fly Over a Blue Jays Game


If you're a Toronto Blue Jays fan, odds are you've probably taken in a game at the Rogers Centre at some point in your life. But have you ever taken in a Blue Jays game 1,465 feet in the air?

The CN Tower EdgeWalk allows people to take in a bird's-eye view of a game below, but the video below actually does one better. Troy Martins on Vimeo shows us what Blue Jays game would look like nearly half a kilometre above the ground via a drone camera.

According to the description, the video was filmed in late September. At the very least, the drone reaches the top deck of the CN Tower, which is 1,465 feet high (or 445.5 meters).

Not only does the drone fly over the Rogers Centre and nearly to the very top of the CN Tower, but it also tours around the Steam Whistle Roundhouse. Not a bad way to take in the downtown Toronto scenery!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Will the Blue Jays Miss Melky Cabrera?


The Melk Man cometh, and the Melk Man leaveth.

Prior to the Russell Martin signing and the Josh Donaldson trade, re-signing Melky Cabrera seemed like priority number one for Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason. But after those moves, bringing back Melky suddenly slipped down the wish list.

The moment the Blue Jays traded for Michael Saunders, that effectively put the kibosh on any possibility of Melky Cabrera re-signing with Toronto. And Melky's deal with the Chicago White Sox over the weekend officially capped his tenure in Toronto as a Blue Jay.

Jeff Blair hinted the Martin signing may have actually been the beginning of the end for Melky and the Blue Jays. I suppose once the club opened up the pocketbook for Martin and not for Melky, that really spoke volumes.

But will the Blue Jays really miss Melky Cabrera?

Offensively speaking, he was either the second or third best hitter in their lineup. He was the prototypical number two hitter, and slotted in perfectly between Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista. That kind of void is hard to fill; or so it would seem.

Because the Blue Jays upgraded at two positions this offseason (catcher and third base), that may have made left field less of a concern. Even though Michael Saunders may be a bit of a downgrade compared to Melky Cabrera, he comes at a much lower price tag.

By letting Melky walk, it allowed the Blue Jays to reallocate funds to improve catcher and third base, and also allowed them to sign a first baseman (albeit, one that comes cheap, but one that does not come without concerns).

Knowing what we know now, Melky Cabrera suddenly doesn't seem so irreplaceable.

If we knew the Blue Jays were going to sign Russell Martin and trade for one of the best third baseman in baseball, fans wouldn't have been clambering so much for the Jays to re-sign Melky.

It's kind of like seeing an item up for auction that you really want, bidding back and forth, only to lose out at the last minute; then afterwards, breathing a sigh of relief and saying "that's alright, I didn't really want it anyway."

The more I think about it, the more I feel the Blue Jays may have dodged a bullet by not re-signing Melky Cabrera. Three years and $42 million dollars isn't that egregious a term or a ridiculous amount of money, but that's bordering on elite-level outfielder money.

The Blue Jays definitely took a risk back in November 2012 by guaranteeing Melky Cabrera $16 million spread over two seasons. But as a free agent, I don't think Melky was going to take another pay cut to come back to Toronto; even if he really did enjoy playing here.

The Blue Jays did shell out for Russell Martin, but his deal is heavily backloaded. Martin only makes $7 million in 2015 while Melky is set to haul in $13 million. Perhaps the Blue Jays' already escalating payroll had something to do with parting ways with Cabrera.

Melky proved that he was one of the best outfielders in the American League this past season, but was that an anomaly or just a preview of what's to come? Considering his PED use in the past and his spinal tumour last season, there's still no real baseline for what to expect from Melky.

Are the White Sox getting the 2012 Melky, who was suspended for PED use? Are they getting the 2013 Melky that played with a spinal tumour for most of the season? Or are they getting the 2014 Melky that was playing in the final year of his contract?

In hindsight, Melky's consistency this past season may have persuaded some to overvalue what he could've brought to the Blue Jays, mostly in the aspect of offense, but defensively as well.

Melky himself said he wasn't ruling out re-signing with the Blue Jays solely because of the artificial turf at the Rogers Centre, but serious consideration needed to be made whether his body could hold up another 3-4 years playing 81 games a season on turf.

It would've been nice to keep that trifecta of Melky/Bautista/Encarnacion intact as a solid middle of the order. But with their recent offseason acquisitions, the Blue Jays can actually lengthen their lineup a bit, rather than just concentrate most of their offense in the 2-4 spots.

Ultimately, the Blue Jays were worse off without Melky Cabera in the lineup. But by adding Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson and Michael Saunders this offseason, that negates his departure and greatly cushions the blow of letting him walk to the south side of Chicago.

Image courtesy of Getty Images/Joe Robbins

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dangling Daniel Norris as Trade Bait?


It's the dilemma many General Managers find themselves dealing with every offseason; whether to cash in on their top prospects, or to continue to foster their development and hope they blossom into big league stars.

The Toronto Blue Jays currently occupy that clear divide regarding a few players in their organization, and have many wondering if they should parlay one of their highly-touted prospects into an everyday player or a bullpen arm.

There's no question the Blue Jays' bullpen is one aspect of the team that still needs to be addressed, but how exactly will Alex Anthopoulos go about remedying it?

If we're to believe what he said at the Winter Meetings, it sounds like the club will attempt to acquire a few relievers via trade.

Everyone's still waiting to see if Dioner Navarro will be dealt this offseason; and while he may fetch something in return, a catcher with one year left on his contract won't exactly command a king's ransom.

In order to get more in return, the Blue Jays are invariably going to have to give more; and that means potentially parting with one of their highly coveted arms. For example, Daniel Norris.

Bob Elliott has hinted on a few occasions that Daniel Norris could be a major trade chip involving any potential deals for an elite reliever.
"The cost for a closer, according to scouts from other teams, is prized lefty prospect Daniel Norris."
But would the Blue Jays really be willing to part with Daniel Norris?

Considering the kind of money free agent relievers have signed for this offseason, perhaps bolstering the bullpen via trade is much more viable option for the Blue Jays. And in theory, a prospect like Norris should garner a sizable haul.

Baseball Prospectus has Daniel Norris ranked as the second best prospect in the Blue Jays' system, thus making him one of the most valuable trade chips the Blue Jays have in their arsenal. So the return for him would and should be substantial.

Trading Daniel Norris this offseason would be the ultimate cap on the Blue Jays' "win now" movement. To deal a prospect like him that's just on the cusp of breaking through at the Major League level is quite risky; but conversely, Daniel Norris' value might never be higher than it is right now.

It's true that fans tend to fall into the trap of overvaluing the favourite team's prospects, and admittedly I'm also guilty of overvaluing players in the minors (see Travis Snider, J.P. Arencibia).

Inside evaluators may project him as a number one starter, while outside evaluators may only view him as a mid to back-end starter. That's why it's so incredibly difficult at this point to determine Norris' wealth, because there's almost an equal chance of him failing as there is of him succeeding.

If it's me running the Blue Jays, I wouldn't trade Daniel Norris; even for Greg Holland, Wade Davis or Aroldis Chapman. That's mostly because those guys only have two or three years left of team control, while Daniel Norris still has six years of control.

Another risk the Blue Jays run by trading Daniel Norris is that suddenly knocks yet another starting pitcher off their dwindling depth chart. The Josh Donaldson trade saw the Blue Jays lose two depth starters (Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman), and dealing Daniel Norris would just create another hole.

I guess it all depends on how close the Blue Jays feel Daniel Norris is from making an impact on the big league roster. If their plan is to stash him in the minor leagues to begin the season, then they might be more inclined to trade him.

If Daniel Norris doesn't end up cracking the Blue Jays' starting rotation, I'd still like to see the team carry him on the big league roster as a reliever. If it worked for Aaron Sanchez in a short stint this past season (33 innings in 24 games), why not Daniel Norris as well?

If the Blue Jays aren't going to trade Daniel Norris for an established reliever and he isn't going to start with the big league club, they may as well use him as a reliever. But if the club is confident Norris can command a spot in the rotation or in the bullpen, trading him would seem counterproductive.

Parting with your second best prospect is a ballsy move. But so is signing Russell Martin to a five year contract and trading for Josh Donaldson; among all the other transactions the Blue Jays have already made this offseason.

Image courtesy of AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette

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