Friday, August 1, 2014

Flashback Friday: Roy Halladay Almost Traded to the Angels

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For the better part of the 2009 season, that was the inevitability floating above the Blue Jays like a dark cloud; it wasn't a question of if they were going to trade their franchise player, it was a question of when they were going to trade him.

Ultimately, Roy Halladay was not moved by J.P. Ricciardi at the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, but that didn't mean there weren't any blockbuster deals in the works for the then Blue Jays' ace.

For this week's Flashback Friday, we look back at the reported trade that nearly sent Roy Halladay to the Los Angeles Angels at the 2009 trade deadline.

While the Blue Jays stormed out to a 27-14 record in early 2009 and held first place until mid-May, by end of July they had dipped well below .500 while the Yankees took a commanding lead of the division.

With that, J.P. Ricciardi and the Blue Jays front office decided it was time to shift into sell mode. On deadline day, they moved their starting third baseman Scott Rolen and were apparently looking to do the same with their ace, Roy Halladay.

In June and July, every time Doc took the mound, it was famously dubbed "what could very well be Roy Halladay's last start in a Blue Jays uniform." The reality of that situation was there, but eventually fans became immune to it.

On July 31st, rumours were swirling all day long, but word came down very close to the 4:00pm deadline that a deal may have been done with the Los Angeles Angels.







It seemed as though there was a last minute push by the Angels, but as 4:00pm came and went, Doc remained a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. The burning question of course was "what was the deal?" According to the LA Times, it involved the following players:
"Talks broke down when the Angels refused to include shortstop Erick Aybar in their offer. Then-Toronto General Manager J.P. Ricciardi was believed to have asked for a pitcher, either Jered Weaver or Joe Saunders, Aybar and outfield prospect Peter Bourjos."
So it sounds like the stumbling point on the Roy Halladay trade was Erick Aybar. If that deal happened, it would've been a great haul by the Blue Jays; one of Weaver or Saunders, Aybar and Bourjos for Halladay.

Jered Weaver would go on to have three consecutive All-Star seasons and finished in the Top 5 in AL Cy Young voting in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Erick Aybar also went out to become an All-Star second baseman and Gold Glove winner.

On the flip side, the Angels would've gotten Doc for the pennant race in 2009 and the full season of 2010. But it turns out they didn't really need him, as Los Angeles went on to win the AL West and finished with a 97-65 record.

I recall sitting at my computer close to 4:00pm that day and hearing the Roy Halladay to the Angels rumblings, but was soon therafter relieved to learn he was staying in Toronto. But if that was in fact the offer tabled for him, in retrospect I would've been perfectly okay with it.

But just in case you ever wanted to know what Roy Halladay would've looked like in a Los Angeles Angels uniform, here's a hastily made Photoshop I made back in the day. For many reasons, it just doesn't look right.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

3 Up 3 Down: Melky, the Valencia Trade and Dickey

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A little over one week ago, the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays were two teams seemingly at a crossroads; the Red Sox were on the cusp of raising the white flag on the 2014 season, while the Blue Jays were very much still in the hunt.

That four game series at the Rogers Centre last week felt like it was going to determine the fate of both clubs at the non-waiver trade deadline, and so far ... it has.

The Blue Jays took three of four and currently occupy the second Wild Car spot in the American League. They just completed a trade to upgrade their team, while the Red Sox have slowly begun selling off pieces.

And after losing 14-1 on home turf last Monday, it was only poetic justice that the Blue Jays paid the Red Sox back by thumping them 14-1 at Fenway Park.


Melky Goes Manic at Fenway



What an eventful past couple of days for Melky Cabrera. On Sunday, he comes within inches of robbing a home run, then he makes an incredible game-ending catch. On Monday, he swats two home runs and drives in 5 of the Blue Jays' 14 runs.

The second half is typically when players tend to fade off, but Melky has done quite the opposite. In the month of July he's hitting .359/.419/.500, and he's proving to be one of baseball's most consistent hitters in 2014.

Not to mention, he broke somebody's windshield after rocketing his second home run right out of Fenway Park and into the parking lot behind the Green Monster.

The funny thing is, that's not the first time a Blue Jays hitter has damaged a vehicle outside of Fenway Park. Jose Bautista dented an SUV a few years ago with this shot.



Danny Valencia, Come on Down


Finally, a trade! Ultimately, this might not be an acquisition that moves the needle all that much, but it at least temporarily shores the third base position.

Trading for Danny Valencia was a true "under the radar" move by Anthopoulos, and considering he only gave up Erik Kratz and Liam Hendricks to get him, I'd say that's a good trade for the Blue Jays.

Valencia has spent the bulk of his career at third base (294 of his 297 starts have been at third), and he provides some much needed help against left-handed pitching. His career slash line of .333/.369/.510 is enough to make one salivate.

Danny Valencia isn't going to set the world on fire by an means, but coming onto a team that's hit .243 versus lefties all season, he'll provide that added boost against southpaws. 

For the time being, Valencia looks to be an ideal platoon partner for Juan Francisco at third base, and down the road, possibly a bench bat. This trade may also signal that the Blue Jays are planning on moving Brett Lawrie back to second base upon his return.

So to summarize, Danny Valencia is controllable, he comes cheap, and he's a right-handed bat that can hit lefties. What's not to like?


Dickey Turning It Around



Last night may have been mostly about the offense, but R.A. Dickey quietly put together another yet solid start, despite having to sit for a long period of time while his teammates put up nine runs in the sixth inning.

While the knuckleball by nature is a very inconsistent and unpredictable beast, Dickey has fairly been consistent going back to the beginning of June; in 11 starts since June 4th he owns a 3.52 ERA and is averaging about 6 strikeouts per game.

However, R.A. still owns that disastrous 10.95 ERA in the seventh inning and beyond this season. It may just be a fluke, but if Dickey is pitching in a close game and it's heading to the seventh, I wouldn't be afraid to get relievers warmed up and ready.

This may be thinking way too far into the future, but if the Blue Jays were in a potential Wild Card playoff winner-take-all game, I don't know if I'd be confident handing the ball to R.A. Dickey in a high-pressure situation.

Images courtesy of Jared Wickerham / Getty Images Sport and @cjzero

Friday, July 25, 2014

Flashback Friday: David Wells Posts the Worst Start in Blue Jays History

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If you think back, it's fairly easy to pinpoint the best starting pitching performances in Blue Jays history. A number of them occupied by Dave Stieb and Roy Halladay, and a few from Jimmy Key, Jim Clancy and even Brandon Morrow.

But can you remember the absolute worst start in Blue Jays history? David Wells definitely does.

For this week's Flashback Friday, we take a look back David Wells dubious honour of having the worst start in Toronto Blue Jays history.It was August 20th 1992 as the Blue Jays faced the Milwaukee Brewers at Country Stadium.

Of course, these were the days when the Brewers were still a division rival of the Blue Jays, and with it being late August and both teams were in the middle of a pennant race, this series had some postseason implications.

However, this game was anything but a race as the Brewers took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning and never looked back. As Bill Wegman coasted through seven innings and surrendered only five hits, David Wells was a different story.

His line for the day was one for the ages; 13 runs on 11 hits through 4.1 innings, 1 strikeout and 4 walks. Ultimately, Wells ended the day with a GameScore of -14.


Pitching IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF Pit Str GSc
David Wells, L (7-7) 4.1 11 13 13 4 1 1 5.37 29 97 55 -14
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com:


While David Wells didn't get "lit up" per sae, his outing was more like death by a thousand paper cuts. Of the 11 hits, two were singles, seven were doubles, and there was a triple and home run a piece.

So rather than beating himself by surrendering an obscene amount of walks, the Brewers just got the better of Wells that day ... by a lot. He wasn't even close to the Blue Jays club record for walks surrendered in a single game, which is nine.

Although Cito Gaston may have hung David Wells out to dry, this was not the start that spurred the famous incident when Wells refused to hand the ball to Gaston and threw it into left field. That came one year prior on August 9th, 1991.

He may have got knocked around by the Brewers that day, but at least David Wells managed to retire 13 batters and didn't need to be rescued until the fifth inning.

Image courtesy of B Bennett/Getty Images Sport

Monday, July 21, 2014

3 Up 3 Down: AA on Trades, Colby's Bunt and Artificial Turf

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There's nothing like facing off against the team with the worst record in baseball to cure what ails a struggling club. Turns out a series against the Texas Rangers is precisely what the Blue Jays needed to get back on track and pick up a series win.

Frankly, a sweep or taking two of three from the Rangers was expected, as Texas is one team that has suffered mightily with season-ending injuries. However, a strong outing by Marcus Stroman and some timely hitting on Sunday helped the Blue Jays get back on track.


AA Holds Court, Remains Vague




On Sunday, Alex Anthopoulos held court with the press and also spoke with Sportsnet's Barry Davis and answered questions mostly pertaining to the upcoming July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.

As per usual, AA remained his elusive self and failed to give any real concrete answers as to what the Blue Jays' plans are in the coming weeks. While it's clear they need to make moves now, I think they're really taking the "wait and see" approach.

With the surging Red Sox and Rays, the dynamic is really shifting within the American League East and in just a few weeks, it really could be anyone's game. So it's my estimation that they're sitting back and letting things unfold leading up to July 31st.

A curious tweet sent out by Bob Elliott hinted that the Blue Jays have told teams aren't able to take on additional payroll, and judging by the Ervin Santana saga from earlier this season, that wouldn't at all surprise me.


In the video, Anthopoulos emphasized moves could be after the non-waiver deadline, which indicates the Blue Jays would more likely be looking at taking on players with big-money contracts that will pass through waivers.

Cliff Lee seems like the prime example for this scenario; he's owed $25 million next season and has a $27.5 million club option for 2016. However, for the Blue Jays to take on that kind of cash, they'd likely have to jettison a big-money contract of their own.

I guess what I'm saying is I'm not counting on Alex Anthopoulos getting anything done prior to July 31st, but there is potential for the Blue Jays to swing a deal for somebody that clears waivers.


Colby Lewis Hates Bunts



Did you know that according to the unwritten rules of baseball, you're not allowed to bunt with a two-run lead? And if you see a huge hole on the left side of the infield, that you're not allowed to take advantage of said situation?

At least that's the world according to Texas Rangers starter, Colby Lewis who got in a heated exchange with Colby Rasmus. Here's what Lewis had to say about the situation via Chris Toman's piece on MLB.com.

"I told [Rasmus] I didn't appreciate it. You're up by two runs with two outs and you lay down a bunt. I don't think that's the way the game should be played ... we are playing the shift, and he laid down a bunt basically simply for average."

Wait a second, is Lewis complaining about Rasmus laying down a bunt when the Blue Jays only had a two-run lead? The very same team that's struggled to score runs for the better part of a month?

Since when did a two run lead become insurmountable? If the game had been 10-0, then I would have understood, but it's two damn runs. Get a grip, Colby.

Also, Colby Rasmus is hardly the first person who has ever tried to beat the shift by bunting the other way. David Ortiz has attempted this, Jose Bautista has done this, and it hasn't been so they could pad their statistics. It's so they could get on base and ultimately help their team win.

If Lewis was going to be upset, he should be upset at Anthony Gose who laid down a bunt base hit and then attempted another in his following at bat. If anybody's trying to bunt for average, it's Anthony Gose.


Let's Talk About Turf, Man



This is likely a topic that deserves its own post entirely, but talk of the quality of the turf at the Rogers Centre has really become a concern in recent weeks.

Jose Bautista voiced his displeasure with the artificial playing surface during the All-Star break, and over the weekend the quality of the turf compared to real grass was very apparent.

In was the turf from Sunday's game, the seams of the Astroturf were very evident by first base. This is hardly a new problem for the Blue Jays, and also one that likely won't have a resolution for many years to come.

But when the field looks that shotty on television, one can only imagine what it must be like for the players who have to play on it.

Images courtesy of Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images Sport and MLB.com
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