Friday, May 30, 2014

Flashback Friday: The Birth of Edwin Encarnacion's Chicken Wing Home Run Trot

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Sometimes the best traditions are born by total accident. Such is the case with Edwin Encarnacion and his famous "chicken wing trot", walking the parrot, T-Rex arm, Edwing, or whatever you want to call it.

In honour of Edwin Encarnacion's torrent pace in the month of May, this week's Flashback Friday takes a look back at the origin of EE's famous chicken wing trot.

The very first instance of Edwin walking the parrot came on April 28th 2012 against the Seattle Mariners. In fact it came to be by complete accident. To learn about it's inception, we have this explanation from Jose Bautista via his appearance on Intentional Talk:

"I think the way it got started was one day he hit a line drive, one of those 'you don't know if it's going to go or not' so he was chugging around first and almost fell down.

He was just kind of leaning and kind of just stayed that way, and everybody was like 'that looked cool, you need to do that again'."

Here's the home run in question, a grand slam off Hisashi Iwakuma on April 28th 2012.



Because of the camera angles, it's kind of hard to tell whether Edwin Encarnacion was in fact close to taking a tumble around first base, but it certainly makes sense that he might elevate his other arm to try to gain balance.

In this first instance, it's really more of him holding his arm up as if he were carrying an old school boombox.


Over time, it naturally progressed into the home run trot you see today, which most famously resembles him walking the parrot. It's best seen in the GIF seen around the around the world coined by Mr. Archi Zuber and Scott Johnson of The Score.

Of course, Bob Mackowycz noted Edwin Encarnacion's chicken wing trot is kind of the antithesis to one of baseball's most infamous home run trots, Jeffrey Leonard's "one flap down". I guess that would invariably make Encarnacion's trot "one flap up".

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

3 Up 3 Down: The Blue Jays are Hot, Hot, Hot

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The Toronto Blue Jays are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now.
I mean ... what else can you really say?

When things aren't going well, it's very easy to become cynical and dissect what's gone wrong, who's not performing and what needs to be changed. But winning cures all of that. All of that stuff really doesn't matter so long as the team is winning.

As the Blue Jays continue to steamroll the competition by scoring a plethora of runs, hitting towering home runs, and turning in solid starting pitching, any questions there may have been about the sustainability of their success have at least been put on hold for now.

So in lieu of a full-out post chronicling how great the Blue Jays have been, I'll keep it succinct in the form of three GIFS for 3 Up 3 Down after the jump.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Blue Jays Flourish as the AL East Flounders

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What a week for the Toronto Blue Jays.

They're winners of six straight, and the Blue Jays also swept the defending World Series Champions on the road and they just swept the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics.

The Blue Jays have also won 11 of their last 13 games, 16 of their last 21 games, and currently own  the fourth best record in the American League.

And by the way ... I'm not sure if you've heard yet, but the Blue Jays are currently in first place. As my wife said to me over the weekend ... "how is that even possible?"

My first inclination was to respond in disbelief myself, but the explanation for the Blue Jays resurgence is actually fairly simple. Where everything broke wrong for the Blue Jays last year, everything is going right for them this year.

The current incarnation of the Toronto Blue Jays are playing like what they should have in 2013. The Blue Jays are beginning to display a semblance of why they were pedaled as a World Series favourite just one year ago.

Overall, the pitching has been fairly solid, the starting lineup continues to swat home runs at a ridiculous pace, the Blue Jays are also manufacturing runs, and the bullpen has reverted back to its consistent self.

Combine that with the overall mediocre performance of the teams in the American League East, and that has been the recipe for success for the Toronto Blue Jays as of late.

The Blue Jays have flourished where the division has floundered.

It's almost as if the Blue Jays can do no wrong, which in many ways reminds me of the 11-game win streak the team put together last June. During that run, they were also receiving timely hitting and solid starting pitching.

In five of those games during the 11-game win streak, Chien-Ming Wang and Esmil Rogers combined to make five starts and went 6.1 innings or more in each of those games. And then the clock struck midnight and they turned back into pumpkins.

However, this time the Blue Jays are no longer relying on journeyman pitchers to carry the load of team decimated by injuries. As noted by Shi Davidi, the Blue Jays are no longer handcuffed by players without options.

Most importantly, the Blue Jays are no longer set up to fail; the way the roster is currently constructed, it is built to succeed.

There could definitely be improvements; second base continues to be an area of concern long term, and depending on what happens with the back end of the rotation, the Blue Jays could still use another arm in the starting rotation.

But for the moment, the team is overcoming those shortfalls and is exceeding expectations overall. The Blue Jays are slowly beginning to look like a formidable foe in the American League East.

The burning question most people have is whether this run by the Blue Jays is sustainable over the rest of the season. Sure, they've looked tremendous the past week, but that's just one week out of the entire schedule. The season is still barely a third of the way finished.

Many would caution against getting too excited about this current run, but I say enjoy the moment. Considering how soul-crushing the past two seasons have been for the Blue Jays fan base, take comfort in any bit of happiness this team provides right now.

It's still far too early to start throwing out the "P" word, but given the way the Blue Jays have been playing, it's hard not to be optimistic.

Image courtesy of Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Friday, May 23, 2014

Flashback Friday: The Blue Jays Biggest Comeback Ever

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"As long as you still have outs, you still have a chance."

While that's true of any baseball game, it was extremely prevalent for the Toronto Blue Jays on June 4th 1989.

For this week's Flashback Friday, we take a look back at the biggest comeback in Blue Jays franchise history; a 13-11 win over the Boson Red Sox at Fenway Park.

That day, the Blue Jays managed to erase a 10-0 deficit against the Red Sox and staged an unprecedented comeback beginning in the 7th inning. All you need to do is look at the boxscore to see how crazy of a game it was.

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Blue Jays 00000024500213164
Red Sox51110200100011130

Overall, it was not a kind game to pitchers as nine of the ten pitchers to appear in the game were touched up for at least one earned run. Only David Wells managed to escape with his ERA not headed skywards.

The Blue Jays opted to start rookie Alex Sanchez at Fenway Park, and the poor kid only managed to get one out and didn't even make it out of the first inning after giving up five runs.

Sanchez only ever made one more appearance that season and was never to be seen in MLB ever again. The starter for the Red Sox was Mike Smithson, who shut out the Blue Jays through six innings, but had to leave the game with a foot blister.

With a 10-0 lead under his belt, Smithson was all but guaranteed a win. But the Blue Jays slowly began to chip away at the Red Sox lead.

Toronto picked up two runs in the seventh inning and then four runs in the eighth. But the top of the ninth is where the magic happened for the Blue Jays.

Tony Fernandez led off the inning with a single, and after that Red Sox manager Joe Morgan brought in his closer, Lee Smith. Unfortunately for Boston, Smith didn't fare much better than his predecessors.

Lee Smith walked Kelly Gruber, gave up a double to George Bell, struck out Fred McGriff, but then walked Lloyd Moseby to load the bases for Ernie Whitt ... who represented the go-ahead run for the Blue Jays.

Ernie Whitt then did the unthinkable; he hit a grand slam to deep right field and put the Blue Jays in the lead for the first time in nine innings. Whitt's home run accounted for a WPA of 65% for the Blue Jays.

However, the lead was short-lived as the Red Sox tied it back up in the bottom of the frame, but the Blue Jays eventually put the game away in the top of the 12th with a two run home run courtesy of Junior Felix.

Perhaps the most incredible thing of all about the game is as late as the seventh inning, the Boston Red Sox had a 100% probably of winning the game according to Baseball Reference's win probability.

That day, the Blue Jays proved the old adage to be true; no lead is safe at Fenway Park.
Even a ten run lead.

Footage courtesy of AllDayBlueJays

Thursday, May 22, 2014

3 Up 3 Down: Encarnacion, First Place and Esmil

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Baseball sure is fun, isn't it?

It's fun when you don't really have to be worried about a starter making it through five innings, the defense botching a routine play, or the bullpen coughing up a lead. It's also helps when you have one of the hottest hitters in baseball on your team.

Things are certainly fun right now for the Toronto Blue Jays; who are 7-3 in their last 10 games and 13-7 in their last 20. The starting pitching has been adequate, the bullpen has stabilized and the starting lineup has been punishing opposing pitchers.

It's a good time to be a Blue Jays fan.


Encarnacion is on Fire


What can you say about Edwin Encarnacion? He's been playing otherworldly in the month of May and has already set a myriad of club records.

With his pair of home runs last night, Encarnacion now has four multi home run games in the month of May, which set a new club record for multiple home run games in a single month. 11 of his 20 hits this month have cleared the fence.

Edwin Encarnacion also became just the second Blue Jay in franchise history to have consecutive games with more than one home run. Jesse Barfield was the only other Blue Jay to do it, and that was in in late August of 1983.

After hitting just two home runs in the month of April, Edwin Encarnacion has kicked it into high gear and slugged a total of 11 in the month of May. Edwin is a bit of a notorious slow starter, but the comparison of the past two months has been like night and day.

Not to mention, EE still has over a week left in the month to put up even more numbers. With Edwin Encarnacion's recent hot streak, the top half of the Blue Jays lineup suddenly looks deadlier than ever.


Tied for First Place



Many were likely very little surprised to check the standings in the AL East this morning and see that your Toronto Blue Jays are indeed tied for first place with the New York Yankees. Yes ... tied for first place.

Admittedly, I try not to pay too much attention to the standings the first three months of the season, but having the Blue Jays at the top of the division in late May is far more advantageous than being forced to climb over teams later in the season.

In fact, the Blue Jays haven't been in first place or tied for first in the month of May since 2009. Of course, that was the magical 27-14 start to the season which eventually saw the Blue Jays finish in fourth place with a 75-87 record.

After vaulting themselves 13 games above .500, the 2009 Blue Jays then went on to lose 10 straight and it was all downhill from there. Let's hope the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays won't repeat the same fate.


The Bell Tolls for Esmil Rogers


More now than ever, seems like the writing is on the wall for one Esmil Rogers. Although the bullpen has stabilized in recent weeks, Rogers has been one of the sole few relievers who has been in flux since the start of the season.

Subsequently, Esmil has been relegated to the mop-up role. And yet even with a substantial lead or the game well out of reach, Rogers has managed to struggle. He has given up three or more runs in 4 of his 16 appearances and his ERA is a shade under 7.00.

I suppose the reason why Esmil Rogers has garnered the nickname "Uncle Esmil" is because he makes fans cry out for mercy whenever he comes in to pitch.

If that's how Esmil Rogers is going to perform in low leverage situations, then what makes them think he'll do any better when the game is actually on the line? Hopefully, Alex Anthopoulos will do the right thing this week and DFA Esmil Rogers.

In retrospect, the entire John Farrell/Mike Aviles/Yan Gomes/Esmil Rogers trade was a complete disaster, but that doesn't mean Rogers should continue to occupy a spot on the roster.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Edwin Encarnacion Has Already Lost 4 Bats This Season

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Coming home with a souvenir from the ballpark is a time-honoured tradition. It might be a pennant, a jersey, or for a lucky few, perhaps they are able to snag a foul ball. But with Edwin Encarnacion at the plate, you could go home with something else entirely; a bat.

You see, Edwin Encarnacion has a tendency to toss his bat into the stands. Not on purpose, but for whatever reason, on occasion EE has a habit of loseing his grip on the bat and send it flying ... more so than any other player in baseball.

How many bats has Edwin Encarnacion lost already? Four.

And when Encarnacion loses hit bat, it doesn't just fall out of his hands ... it goes hurling into the stands at an astronomical rate. It's no wonder someone hasn't been hurt already.

Edwin Encarnacion has lost four bats in 46 games played, which translates to one errant bat every 11.5 games. At his current pace, Encarnacion could potentially toss away 14 bats by season's end.


Bat One: March 31st, 2014



Edwin barely even waited for the season to begin to dispose of his first bat of the season. It was Opening Day against the Tampa Bay Rays when he let the lumber fly.



Bat Two: April 1st, 2014




Not wanting the fans in Tampa Bay to go without a souvenir, Edwin Encarnacion launched yet another bat into the stands at Tropicana Field for the second straight game.

Except this time around, the fans had a creative way to solve the dilemma of who would be awarded the bat; rock, paper, scissors. Kudos to the young man for opting to throw paper ... gutsy move given the circumstances.


Check out bats three and four after the jump.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Flashback Friday: Position Players to Pitch for the Blue Jays

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For whatever reason, there's a strange fascination with watching position players take the mound. Perhaps it's because they're out of their element, perhaps it's because it happens so rarely ... but whenever it does, it's definitely memorable.

On the heels of yet another Blue Jays position player being called upon to take the hill, this week's Flashback Friday takes a look back at all the Toronto Blue Jays pitchers who have gotten a chance to pitch.

Only seven position players in franchise history have the distinction of pitching for the Blue Jays, and two of them (Bob Bailor and Jeff Mathis) did it on more than one occasion. Here's the full list below:

PlayerYearGamesIPERAHits
Craig Kusick197913.24.913
Bob Bailor198032.17.714
Rick Leach198411272
Frank Menechino200410.102
Mike McCoy20111100
Jeff Mathis20122294
Steve Tolleson201410.101

Interestingly enough, Blue Jays position players own an all-time ERA of 6.94 in 11.2 innings pitched. I'd say that's pretty respectable, considering those players are totally out of their element.

Unfortunately, there isn't documented video of every single position player appearance, but here are the last four ... beginning with Steve Tolleson's one out performance this past week.

Steve Tolleson - May 14th, 2014





Jeff Mathis - July 25th, 2012





Jeff Mathis - May 25th, 2012





Mike McCoy - June 11th, 2011




Stats courtesy of the 2014 Blue Jays Media Guide, image courtesy of Infield Fly

Monday, May 12, 2014

3 Up 3 Down: Lawrie, Reyes and More Roster Moves

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Talk about a tale of two homestands; after completely dominating Philadelphia Phillies and outscoring them 22-6 in two games last week, the Blue Jays experienced the ugly side of the next series as they've dropped three straight to the Los Angeles Angels.

The Angels have outscored the Blue Jays 18-9 in what has been a lopsided series thus far. Although taking one out of four games is not an ideal result, one win is a consolation for what has been a pretty underwhelming series.

Here are a few quick thoughts on the possibility of moving Brett Lawrie back to second base, Jose Reyes' resurgence, and a cavalcade of even more roster moves.


Moving Lawrie to Second ... Again?


Over the weekend, John Gibbons declared that upon Brett Lawrie's return, he would be moved off the hot corner to second base (against right-handed starters at least).

Is anybody else a little leery about moving Brett Lawrie back to second base after he's been so great at third?

The Blue Jays attempted that last year after the revolving door of second baseman which included Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio, and that had disastrous results; so why do they think it's going to be any different this time?

What it comes down to is the Blue Jays are once again compromising their roster to accommodate a player who is out of options (Juan Francisco).

I agree the Blue Jays really can't afford not to have Francisco's bat in the lineup right now, but what happens if and when he cools off; does Brett Lawrie go back to third base until Francisco heats up again?

Playing Lawrie at second and Francisco at third is a strategy which may work out in the short term, but I can't see it paying dividends for the Blue Jays in the long term.

Update: It appears as though the Blue Jays have somewhat come to their senses at Brett Lawrie will be back in the lineup tonight playing third base, not second. I guess this has now become a moot point.


Jose Reyes Returns to Form




I'll be honest ... on Friday, I began drafting a blog post with the premise that Jose Reyes has been a shell of his former self. But then a funny thing happened over the weekend; he got his groove back.

Given it's a small sample size, but Jose Reyes has had a pretty good homestand thus far; he reached base nine times, including six hits, four stolen bases, and most notably from the video above, he scored from second base on a ground ball.

That's tremendous news for those like myself who thought Reyes was playing afraid and perhaps cognizant of hurting himself again. If Jose Reyes isn't lighting it up on the basepaths, then he really isn't playing to his full potential.

Reyes should be one of those guys that makes opposing pitchers nervous when he gets on base, and who has the ability to swipe a bag at any given moment. Finally, that version of Jose Reyes is beginning to emerge once again.


As the Roster Revolving Door Turns


Another day, another bunch of roster moves in Blue Jays Land. If it feels like it's been a revolving door of sorts, it's because it has been. Since Opening Day, the Blue Jays have made 51 transactions. Yes, 51 transactions.

This includes the optioning of players, sending players to the disabled list, activating players off the DL, claiming players off waivers, and calling players up from the minors. I'm not sure if the Blue Jays have made the most moves, but they definitely rank up there.

Image courtesy of AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Friday, May 9, 2014

Flashback Friday: WAMCO

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White. Alomar. Molitor. Carter. Olerud.

Five names that would strike fear into the hearts of opponents everywhere. Five names that comprised the most dangerous top half of the batting order in Blue Jays history. Five names that will be remembered as one entity: WAMCO.

For this week's Flashback Friday, we take a look back at one of the most potent Blue Jays lineups, "WAMCO"; comprised of Devon White, Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor, Joe Carter and John Olerud.

WAMCO sounds like it could be a baseball bat company, but in actuality WAMCO was the Blue Jays modern day version of the Yankees' infamous Murderers' Row lineup.

Here's a look at WAMCO's impressive totals from 1993. Miraculously, all five guys managed to stay healthy for the duration of the season, thus maximizing their contributions.

Pos G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB BA OBP SLG OPS
CF Devon White 146 668 116 163 42 6 15 52 34 57 .273 .341 .438 .779
2B Roberto Alomar 153 683 109 192 35 6 17 93 55 80 .326 .408 .492 .900
DH Paul Molitor 160 725 121 211 37 5 22 111 22 77 .332 .402 .509 .911
RF Joe Carter 155 669 92 153 33 5 33 121 8 47 .254 .312 .489 .802
1B John Olerud 158 679 109 200 54 2 24 107 0 114 .363 .473 .599 1.072

The WAMCO order stayed intact during 88 of the Toronto Blue Jays 162 regular season games that year. And it probably would have been more had it not been for the midseason acquisition of notorious speedster, Rickey Henderson.

WAMCO was unique in the fact that the top five of the Blue Jays batting order didn't let up; there were no easy outs.

You had the leadoff man Devon White; a switch-hitter who had gap power to both sides of the field and was a perennial base-stealer. Then there's Roberto Alomar; a pure a hitter as there ever was in a Blue Jays uniform, and a speed demon in his own right.

Next, the DH Paul Molitor who at age 37 had one of the best seasons of his Hall of Fame career in 1993. Molitor was no slouch on the base paths either, as he even swiped 22 bags that season. Molitor even played 160 of 162 games that season.

Then there's the cleanup hitter Joe Carter, who arguably was the weakest hitter of the group but definitely had the most power. Because he had three on-base machines hitting in front of him, Carter often had the benefit of hitting with men on base.

Lastly, WAMCO was anchored by the unsung hero John Olerud who had an unprecedented season for the Blue Jays in 1993. Along with the 1993 American League batting title, Olerud broke many franchise records that still stand to this day.

Of the many accolades accumulated by WAMCO, they collectively won two Silver Slugger Awards, two Gold Glove Awards, and all five men were selected to the 1993 All-Star Game. Not a mention, a World Series ring.

Of course, three of the five members of WAMCO (Olerud, Molitor and Alomar) famously finished Top 3 in batting average in the American League in 1993.


While the WAMCO core wasn't necessarily known for its power, it was instead revered for its overall hitting prowess and ability to score runs.

Of the 847 runs produced by the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays, WAMCO was responsible for scoring 547 or 65% of them. Of the 22 players to hit for the Blue Jays that year, five of them scored the lion's share of their runs.

As mentioned earlier, the acquisition of Rickey Henderson at the 1993 trade deadline just made the Blue Jays lineup at that more stronger, and essentially turned WAMCO into HWACOM (Henderson, White, Alomar, Carter, Olerud, Molitor).

On honour of this historic quintet, you can get your very own commemorative WAMCO T-shirt. If it's good enough for The Iron Sheik, then it's good enough for everybody, right?


Feature image courtesy of Bleacher Bum Collectibles. Sheik image courtesy of The Sheik

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Ever-Changing Batting Stance of Colby Rasmus

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Is there anyone on the Toronto Blue Jays roster who has had more batting stances than Colby Rasmus?

Since his arrival in Toronto in mid-season of 2011, I don't think I've seen another player whose swing has been tinkered with more or who's had more batting stance adjustments.

It's not all that surprising as Colby Rasmus has been under the guidance of three different hitting coaches the past three seasons with the Blue Jays (Kevin Seitzer, Chad Mattola, Dwayne Murphy), and five hitting coaches total in his six season career.

Five different hitting coaches means five completely different hitting philosophies, five different voices in his head, and subsequently Colby Rasmus has just as many (if not more) different batting stances.

The Sportsnet broadcast picked up on this a few days ago and Jeff Blair mentioned this on Baseball Central on Monday, but it appears as though Colby Rasmus is sporting yet another modified batting stance.

Colby Rasmus may not be the proverbial man of a thousand batting stances like Cal Ripken Jr. was, but over the past few years his stance has been ever-changing. To the best of my ability, I attempted to identify each of Colby Rasmus' batting stance changes since then.

Click to embiggen

Check out a GIF comparison of some of Colby's swings courtesy of the multi-talented @Mattomic and a retrospect on his batting stances after the jump.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

3 Up 3 Down: The Bullpen, Morrow and Stroman

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Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it did. For the second consecutive game and for the seventh time in the last 15 games, the Blue Jays' bullpen blew a lead.

Perhaps it was an omen when the torrential rain began and Neil Walker displayed supreme focus by coming up with a clutch it. Because lately in Blue Jays Land, when it rains ... it pours.


The Bullpen Blows It ... Again


At first it looked like it was a blip on the radar. Then after a few more occurrences, it was a disturbing trend. But now it's become an epidemic; the Blue Jays bullpen simply cannot hold a lead.

How is it that one aspect of the team that was so good last season has suddenly become so bad this season?

It really doesn't matter who it is, no Blue Jays reliever has been immune to getting hit hard early in the season. Currently the Blue Jays pitching staff owns a 6.99 ERA in the 7th inning and 7.14 in the 8th inning. In the seventh inning and beyond, their ERA is 6.00.

How difficult must it be for John Gibbons right now? Prior to Brandon Morrow's injury, he was sidled with a six-man rotation and a six-man bullpen. How can any manager be expected to win when his hands are tied like that?

Having Todd Redmond pitch in a high-leverage situation is not something that simply should not happen, so in that respect it was almost a foregone conclusion that Redmond would struggle.

The Blue Jays bullpen is riding an incredibly bad stretch right now, and the alarming part is I don't really know what the remedy is. Being handicapped by relievers on the roster without options like Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers certainly isn't helping.


Morrow to the 60-Day DL


It might sound like a hyperbolic statement, but it really is conceivable that Brandon Morrow's career with the Blue Jays is over. Now that he's been placed on the 60-day disabled list, Morrow would be back in July at the earliest.

But by the sounds of things, he could be done for the season if he requires surgery on his finger. The Blue Jays hold a $10 million dollar option on Brandon Morrow for next season, and at this point they seriously have to consider declining it.

It's almost akin the Josh Johnson situation all over again; I can understand why the Blue Jays were afraid to let him walk, but the injury concerns and the dollars attached to the deal were just too great of a risk for them to take. The same goes for Morrow.

Brandon Morrow has been the ultimate enigma for the Toronto Blue Jays the past five (yes five) seasons. And assuming he spends at least the minimum 60 days on the DL, that means Morrow will have lost 270 days due to injuries since the beginning of 2012.

This now marks the third consecutive season in which Brandon Morrow has been placed on the 60-day disabled list and missed significant time. Morrow has not remained completely healthy throughout a season since 2010 with the Blue Jays.


Welcome to the Show, Marcus Stroman


One of the few positives to come out of last night's game was the announcement that Marcus Stroman was called up to join the club.

In somewhat of a perplexing move, the Blue Jays announced Stroman will be available out of the bullpen, and not taking Morrow's rotation spot. It seems like this is merely a short-term solution until one of either Dustin McGowan or J.A. Happ struggle.

The problem is the Blue Jays basically have a gentleman's agreement with McGowan while also trying to not upset Happ, so neither of them can be ousted from the rotation unless there is just cause.

One bad start from either of them will open the door for Marcus Stroman. He's clearly best suited as a starting pitcher, but considering there are virtually no reliable arms in the bullpen right now, John Gibbons may opt to go with Stroman right out of the gate.

For the moment, Marcus Stroman is needed much more in the bullpen than the starting rotation, but that will likely change very, very soon.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sergio Santos Implodes Again

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At least this time it was quick and painful.

Just over two weeks ago, Sergio Santos and the Blue Jays let a game get away from them in rather excruciating fashion; eight walks in one inning, three wild pitches, and one rough night for Sergio Santos. It was death by a thousand paper cuts.

While the result from last night was ultimately a loss for the Blue Jays, Sergio Santos got beat by the Pirates. In that meltdown against the Twins, Santos beat himself.

Versus the Twins, Sergio Santos kept going back to his slider time and time again, which led to many pitches in the dirt. It was quite the opposite last night, as Santos predominantly used his fastball, which did not fool the Pirates hitters whatsoever.



Most would agree Santos merely has the interim closer tag until Casey Janssen returns, but in the meantime I think John Gibbons has to make a change when it comes to save situations. It might be just to keep up appearances, but he can't keep running Santos out there.

Moving forward, Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar are the logical choices to hand the ball to from now on in save situations. Employing a "closer by committee" strategy until Casey Janssen returns is a safe bet.

It's odd because last season when he was the setup man to Casey Janssen, Sergio Santos was virtually lights-out. But for whatever reason when it comes to protecting a lead late in the game, Santos has faltered on many occasions.

In non-save situations last season, Sergio Santos sported a 1.02 ERA while giving up just six hits in 16 games. Santos was nearly unhittable in non-save situations last season, as he struck out 19 batters along the way.

Albeit he pitched just over 25 innings in 2013, but those results were promising enough to make one feel a little bit better about having Casey Janssen on the disabled list to begin the season.

This year is a completely different story. With Casey Janssen on the shelf, Santos has been the defacto closer for the Blue Jays and it hasn't been pretty. In save situations, Sergio Santos owns a 14.21 ERA in nine games.

It was Santos' injury in 2012 which opened the door for Casey Janssen to come in and become the Blue Jays closer the past two seasons. Strangely enough, Janssen evolved into one of the best late-inning relievers in the league.

You'd never think that because Santos is the one with the electric fastball and the devastating slider. And yet Casey Janssen can locate his four-seam fastball and cutter with ease and he thrives off locating his pitches.

In that respect, Casey Janssen is the Mark Buehrle of closers.

It won't be long before Casey Janssen returns, but I'm afraid any sort of trade value Sergio Santos accumulated over the offseason has dwindled. If the Blue Jays were planning on dealing Santos this season, they likely won't get much for him now.

Sergio Santos can be a great reliever at times and can be an integral part of the bullpen; I just don't think he has the control to be a closer anymore. His stuff seems better suited for the seventh or eighth inning, preferably with nobody on base.

Image courtesy of Zimbio

Friday, May 2, 2014

Flashback Friday: Dave Stieb Gets Kissed by a Fan

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Fans rush on the field all the time. Their motivations aren't always clear, but one thing that's certain is once they step over that barrier and enter the field of play, all bets are off.

While most times it's an alcohol-induced decision, there's one fan who had an unusually romantic motive for her rush onto the field. For this week's Flashback Friday, we take a look back at Dave Stieb's famous run-in with a particularly affectionate admirer.

Thanks to the must-follow Tumblr Random Jays Stuff, we have visual evidence of the Blue Jays kissing bandit that rushed the mound on October 8th, 1985. It was the top of the second inning of game one of the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals.

Judging by the photo above, Dave Stieb seemed totally unfazed by the incident, as the bandit planted a kiss and was promptly escorted off the field. Stieb was not distracted whatsoever and ended up pitching eight innings of shutout ball and gave up only three hits.

After the game, here's what Stieb had to say about his admirer:
"I heard the crowd getting excited. I didn't know what was going on. When I looked, she was right on top of me. I was just trying to get her away from me."
So who was she? The 19 year old was known as Juanita Smith, or her stage name "Chrissie". Apparently she worked in Mississauga as an exotic dancer and she claimed to be big fan of Dave Stieb. A really big fan.
"Dave Stieb, he's such a real turn-on to me. I just had to give him a kiss.

I'm going home to watch the game on TV ... and you can tell him (Stieb) I'm blowing kisses to him."
Ultimately, the Blue Jays did not press charges against Ms. Smith, but she did become somewhat of an overnight celebrity. Perhaps that was her plan all along, as her stint with Stieb scored her a new job at the gentleman's club "Chez Paree" just a few days later.

Hat tip to Random Jays Stuff  for the image.
Quotes courtesy of LA Times and The Miami News.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

How the 1992-1993 Blue Jays Created Fans for Life

By

"Where were you when the Blue Jays won in 1992 and 1993?"

Ask that question and virtually anybody can tell you exactly where they were when Joe Carter caught the final out of the 1992 World Series, or where they were when Joe Carter hit that historic walk-off home run in 1993.

Those moments are engrained into people's minds forever. Not just for adults, but for children as well. It appears those World Series banners planted the seed for many young fans to grow up as loyal Blue Jays followers.

The New York Times published a very fascinating article on the effect of a World Series victory in young baseball fans. What it found was the prime age range in which fans were created for life was around 8-12.
"The most important year in a boy’s baseball life is indeed age 8. If a team wins a World Series when a boy is 8, it increases the probability that he will support the team as an adult by about 8 percent."
This means if your favourite team won a World Series when you were about 8 to 12 years old, odds are you're probably still a fan of that baseball team to this day, and probably will be for the rest of your life.

So how does that play into effect with the 1992 and 1993 World Series Champion Blue Jays teams?

If you're 30-34 years old right now, that means you were 8-12 back then; and according to this article, in the prime window of becoming a Jays fan for life.

That's not to say you have to fall specifically into that demographic, but from the research done by the New York Times, it found the impact of a World Series Championship at age 8-12 had the biggest effect on young fans.

If you think about it, there's a lot of validity to that. I myself fall into that demographic, being 8 years old when the Blue Jays won their first World Series in 1992. And although the baseball strike of 1994 turned me off baseball for a while, I eventually came back.

But what about women? The findings suggested there was no specific window which made them more susceptible to being a fan for life, but I'm willing to bet it's very similar to the male numbers, especially when it pertains to the Blue Jays.


So why exactly does this work? I think for many people, cheering for the Blue Jays now reminds them of their childhood.

While the calibre of baseball now might not be what it was in the late 80's and early 90's, there is hope the Blue Jays will one day return to becoming a perennial contender.

If you're reading this blog, chances are you have at least some level of interest in the Toronto Blue Jays. Think back to when you initially became a Blue Jays fan; was it because of the 1992-1993 Blue teams?

Those two World Series Championships solidified fandom for a generation of Toronto Blue Jays fans. It created a huge ripple effect for the next wave of Blue Jays followers.

This study proved there's nothing that secures fans for life more than winning. And making the playoffs year after year might not even be enough; it takes a World Series title (or two) to create a lifetime of fandom.

It's not just limited to baseball, either. Remember your favourite things from your childhood; your favourite toy, your favourite movie, heck ... even your favourite cereal. They bring back warm memories, just like the 1992 and 1993 Toronto Blue Jays.

Just like any good brand, they get you when you're young.

Images courtesy of Sportsnet
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