Daily Duce: Monday, January 26th

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Daily??!?

Jeff Blair writes at Sportsnet that Jeff Hoffman wasn’t just the object of the Orioles’ interest this off-season, and that the Atlanta Braves asked to start a package with last year’s ninth overall pick earlier this off-season, before he was dealt to the San Diego Padres (even though I’m pretty sure Upton has a no-trade clause, which by rule of baseball law — seemingly — means the Jays must be on it). According to the piece Hoffman is already throwing bullpens (only fastballs, though), and Alex Anthopoulos lays this on us: “He should be in games in April, getting stretched out to start, and he should be activated to be with a team in early May. He has looked great.”

In the same piece, Blair also writes: “I hate to tell you this, but the whole Paul Beeston/Dan Duquette exit waltz is not over yet.” Ugh. Can’t it be? Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun is on the same page, figuring — as Blair does — that “we’ve seen enough of these situations to realize that the Jays could be using their new hard-line stance as a form of posturing for future negotiations.” Encina suggests that “the Jays might be banking on the idea that the damage has already been done to Duquette’s future with the Orioles, that lingering doubt in the Warehouse about where Duquette’s heart is will fester until the club sees no other choice but letting him out of his deal.” Fun stuff.

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith looks at comments the possibility of baseball returning to Montreal, given these comments from new commissioner Rob Manfred to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times: “I think Montreal helped itself as a candidate for Major League Baseball with the Toronto games that they had up there last year. It’s hard to miss how many people showed up for those exhibition games. It was a strong showing. Montreal’s a great city. I think with the right set of circumstances and the right facility, it’s possible.” Do it!

One more from Sportsnet has Michael Grange looking at Russell Martin and the art of the steal… of strikes.

Interesting piece from Josh Rubin of the Toronto Star, who wonders about the falling loonie’s impact on Canadian sports teams. MLSE admits to hedging in order to help ease the damage of currency fluctuations — the Jays declined to comment, which is, of course, entirely in character for them.

In the National Post, John Lott argues that a good prospect is a deserving price for an executive like Dan Duquette, taking the minority view on the matter… or… well… the minority view among Toronto fans — and only among Toronto fans when they’re they ones being asked to give up the prospect, not when they were shouting “Pedroia!” and “Buchholz!” during the Farrell mess. He’s right, in other words.

I mentioned it in  but it certainly bears repeating that Bob Elliott’s Toronto Sun piece buglefuck Eddie’s clumsy approach of Ken Williams earlier this winter is worth a read. Related to that, Steve Simmons wonders where Guy Laurence is in all this, and why he hasn’t removed BFE from the day-to-day operation of the Jays the way that he has from other aspects of the company. Simmons also quotes a scout that says Hoffman is better at this stage than Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman were, which… OK, on Stroman that’s impressive. On Sanchez? Hoffman is only six months younger, and Aaron is about to start his sixth season as a pro. So…

Continue reading Daily Duce: Monday, January 26th

Stray Thoughts – 01/25/15

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Content pays the bills, and while I certainly can’t promise I’ll take the time to make this a regular Weekend feature, from time to time it’s probably going worth sharing some stray thoughts that don’t really fit elsewhere. So let’s…

It’s finally over. I think. Shi Davidi reported on Sunday at Sportsnet that the Jays have called off negotiations with noted “tough negotiator” Peter Angelos and his Baltimore Orioles. The O’s owner has used his masterful skills to end up with a GM who doesn’t want to work for him and sweet dick all. His ask, reportedly, was so laughable — “Beyond Hoffman, the ninth overall pick in last year’s draft, the Orioles are also believed to have been seeking catcher Max Pentecost, the 11th overall pick in 2014, infielder Mitch Nay and more,” Davidi writes — that even little Eddie Rogers couldn’t bungle it. Way to go, Pete! Thing is, though… is this really over? MASN reporter Roch Kubatko tweets skepticism about the latest report. He quotes an Orioles official: “That’s what, the 4th time they’ve said that?”

Sigh.

So is it true? Is it not true? Alls I know is, if they’re really walking away, the Jays have finally got it right by letting go of this idea, no matter how good a fit Duquette probably is. I read about that somewhere, I think. Was kinda buried behind some flowery conceit about writing or something, though.

If for some reason you didn’t already want Jose Baustista to sign here forever there’s probably nothing that’s going to change your mind on that front. But why not try Nick Cafardo’s latest for the Boston Globe anyway, as the Jays slugger praises the moves made by the club — even the much maligned ones of two years ago, which he says helped build the club’s core — and tries to make some lemonade out of the turf situation. “I think we’ve had four or five different surfaces since I’ve been here and we have another new one this year. It tells me how committed our management is to trying to help us. They have all been a little different and have different effects on your body, but they’ve all gotten better and better.” He adds: “I think in the past, I haven’t been able to give advice to new guys coming in, but now that I’ve been through it and experienced it, I think I can give players advice. Our training staff is also more and more aware of what we need to do to adapt to the turf.”

Today is new commissioner Rob Manfred’s first day, and already he’s done something pretty extraordinarily stupid, admitting that he’d be open to banning the extreme defensive shifts that have become de rigeur in the sport these days. Because that’s somehow a problem? League average BABIP in 2013 and 2014, as the shifts became especially popular, was as high or higher than 2010, 2011, and 2012. Sure, league average OPS has declined every single one of those years — from .728 in 2010 to 2014’s paltry .700 — but… uh… maybe have a look at league strikeout rates, eh Rob? FanGraphs has data going back to 1871, and the seven highest league-wide strikeout rates in history (from seventh-highest to highest) occurred in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. The 2014 rate of 20.4% was the first time ever that more than 20% of all MLB plate appearances ended in a K.

I’m OK with the notion of speeding up the pace of the game, which is something else Manfred discussed, at least in concept. The pitch clock I’m not terribly keen on — though I saw something written (or tweeted) about how we’re supposed to think it’s an affront to players to put the onus on them to speed the game up, which is certainly not why — but it could maybe help… I guess. Thing is, obviously the real culprit here isn’t going away anytime soon: all the downtime scheduled for TV ads between each half inning.

Is this just a glorified Daily Duce?

Back to the Duquette stuff, as Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun writes as much of the inside story as we’ve yet seen — and it ain’t pretty for Bunglefuck Eddie and friends. Speaking of, last summer consultant Roger Rai was “misidentified” as part of an ownership group attempting to bring the Buffalo Bills to Toronto — a matter an Associated Press piece found in the Toronto Star clears up (but not without raising questions of its own about his reported connections to the Jays-Duquette mess).

Speaking of the Star, it seems like Damien Cox’s old “gotta at least ask the question” piece has disappeared since he left the paper for the greener pastures of Sportsnet. Don’t worry, though, the ol’ Wayback Machine’s got it. And it’s somehow worse than you remember.

Lastly, it’s the nature of the business, but it sucks a little bit to have something you really poured yourself into slip into the ether after a few hours at the top of the page. Is what I’m about to do a bit self-indugent? Sure. But here are my favourite things I did this week…

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Toronto Blue Jays, Dan Duquette A Perfect Fit, But The Cost Is Just Too High

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One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever got was not to fall in love with one’s own words.

Sometimes there’s an image, or a deft turn of phrase, or even a single word that one feels sits so brilliantly on the page that we end up seeing only it and nothing else. Often it means grappling to fit the rest of the piece in around this unmovable object we’re so tickled by, to the detriment of the whole.

Perhaps it’s counter-instinctual, when caught in the throes of delight at the perfect morsel we slipped into our creation, to push back against the rush of delight and convince ourselves that we can do just as well without it. But the simple truth is, to maximize the potential of a piece of writing we not only have to be responsible for our most creative flourishes, but we need to understand when it’s time to let them go.

This is a lesson a lot of Blue Jays fans are hoping right now has sunk in with whoever is behind the club’s messy public overtures towards Dan Duquette — rumoured to be Edward S. Rogers III, deputy chairman of the company that bears his name (and owns the Blue Jays), and consultant Richard Rai, though no one as yet has claimed responsibility.

That Duquette’s name first surfaced in early December, and despite all the road blocks — for example, the adamant posture from Orioles owner Peter Angelos that he isn’t giving up a GM whose contract runs through the end of the 2018 season, and the continued employment of Paul Beeston (whose contract may technically have expired in the fall, though he represented the club at the recent MLB owners meeting in Phoenix) — is still front and centre suggests that he’s highly valued in these parts. The fact that rumours have surfaced suggesting that the clubs have discussed Jeff Hoffman, the Blue Jays’ first pick (ninth overall) in last June’s draft, as potential compensation only reinforces how eagerly Duquette is sought.

CONTINUE READING AT THE NATIONAL POST

Brunt: The Jays Will Walk Away From Duquette

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Does this now mean the end of the saga? One sure hopes. And while I certainly wouldn’t question one of the country’s great sports journalists/drinkers, Stephen Brunt, the way that the last Rogers guy’s announcement that this is no longer a thing went over, I’m not without nervousness that this isn’t necessarily the end of it.

However! Brunt was on Sportsnet 960 in Calgary this afternoon with Ryan Pinder (who is also terrific, for the record), and here’s what he had to say:

“My bet will be that by the end of the day today this will be over, and that the Jays will walk away from Duquette. I’m pretty confident about that. I think it’s done, and I think for the sake of the Blue Jays it’s a good thing. It’s been embarrassing — ownership has been dragged into it, Edward Rogers’ name has been dragged into it for the first time ever associated with the team. Beeston is out in Vancouver now on the winter tour — the kind of injured party here. So I think they’ve got to find a way to prop up his dignity, move on, walk away from Peter Angelos — who is not going to budge, it would appear — and then probably continue the search for somebody to replace Paul Beeston at the end of the season or before, because they obviously want to.”

So… not exactly a firm “this is over,” but… there’s that?

Image via @baltimoredaves1/Instagram

Pw/oC: The Jays Love Hoffman, But Does Rogers?

I believe these things to be true, but in Blue Jays won’t trade for GM Duquette, but Rogers might for the Toronto Sun, Bob Elliott assures us that it doesn’t really matter what the Blue Jays think — and that it seems to all be about little Eddie Rogers, and his sports consultant pal Roger Rai (aka @EdwardSRogers and @rogerrai1), which is, of course, exactly what makes this all terrifying.