Most of this sort of stuff we’ve heard before, but the idea of the club wanting to bring back Edwin as a bridge to kids like Rowdy Tellez and Vlad Guerrero Jr., who are still a few years away, is a new one. And one that certainly makes a whole lot of sense for both the Jays and for Encarnacion. Heyman mentioned that Edwin was said to be open to some kind of a hometown discount when the two sides met during the spring, and while he had nothing to report on whether that’s still the case, comments like the ones Eddie made to Hazel Mae after his walk-off home run in the Wild Card game sure make you think it’s at least possible.
A four-year deal would take Encarnacion through his age-37 season. Just fucking do it already! It’s Edwin!
As for Bautista, Heyman notes that because of some of his business ties in Toronto — i.e. Booster Juice and whatever else he’s a pitchman for — he may be able to make more money on the side in Toronto than he could elsewhere, so that’s an advantage for the Jays too, perhaps.
Because of that fact, Heyman explains that “it may not be such a terrible idea for him to take the one-year qualifying offer, which is expected to be for about $17 million, but he’d likely figure there’s a multiyear deal out there for him somewhere.”
Ahh, but do you take whatever multiyear deal that happens to be out there? How do you weigh it against being Jose Bautista in Toronto? Maybe it depends on who’s offering. Or maybe you can convince yourself that you’re worth betting on, and that short-term deal really is in your best financial interest, as well as your best interest as a ballplayer.
So… could the Jays really, actually, seriously end up with both Encarnacion and Bautista back? It feels a touch delusional to think so given that we were about ready to end their Blue Jays careers five or six games ago. But maybe!
Cleveland had to host the Republican convention that nominated Donald Trump, plus, the Browns. They have suffered enough.
Besides, LeBron James doesn’t play baseball, and it’s Toronto who should be favoured in this series. Last year the Jays spent two months as the best team in baseball, as a laughably good homer-smashing-defence-playing-pitching-rich band of village-burning Vikings, and then in the playoffs there was the six-game ALCS loss to Kansas City, whose paper talent wasn’t as impressive. As one Jay put it, “baseball is stupid.”
And then this year the bats weren’t the same, and the pitching was saving them, and in the last two months of the season they were a mess at the plate. And then they hit 10 home runs in four playoff games against Baltimore and Texas, and lead this shard of playoff sample size in on-base-plus-slugging at .863. Cleveland is second at .776, but when the Jays are mashing they feel like themselves. If they are themselves it should be tough for Cleveland, this time.
“I mean, we couldn’t ask for a whole lot more (so far in the playoffs),” says pitcher J.A. Happ. “It’s tough to do that every game, but it would be nice if we could, and I think it will give us some confidence going in. Because playing that way is kind of what we’ve been searching for for a while.”
And when you’re hitting, as a team . . .
“Then it’s tough, man,” says backup catcher Dioner Navarro, who was here last year and then came back mid-season “And I can speak from experience because earlier this year I faced this team with the White Sox . . . I mean, it’s a tough lineup to pitch. And I had two of the best guys I’ve caught in my life in (Jose) Quintana and (Chris) Sale and it was a grind, it was a battle, every at-bat you never knew. Some teams take three, four swings to score one run. These guys, it can take one swing to score three, four runs. We can be really dangerous, man.”
Scott MacArthur joins Hustler & Lawless to discuss the decision to start Marco Estrada in Game 1 of the ALCS, and explains why the Toronto Blue Jays has the edge in pitching in the series.
Estrada was brilliant last Thursday in Game 1 of the Blue Jays’ sweep of the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series, allowing one run and four hits in 8 1/3 innings.
His other two postseason wins came last year in elimination games. He held the Rangers to one run and five in 6 1/3 innings in Game 3 of their ALDS and the Kansas City Royals to one run and three hits in 7 2/3 innings in Game 5 of the ALCS.
So how has someone whose previous postseason experience consisted of four relief appearances for the Brewers in 2011 developed the ability to rise to such big occasions?
“I don’t change anything,” Estrada said. “I think of it just as another regular season game. Why am I going to add extra pressure on myself? There’s no point to doing that. Sometimes it can get to guys and not pitch as well as they can.
“So I think about it just as a normal game and basically just try to pound the zone. I look at (catcher Russell Martin’s) glove and I try to hit it as (many) times as possible. I don’t let the situation get to me at all. I don’t really think about it. I’m pretty calm out there and maybe that’s what’s helped me out so much.”
The Blue Jays’ returning to a regular starting rotation probably doesn’t hurt.
Jays Nation’s Andrew Stoeten joins TSN 1150 Hamilton’s Tatti and Marsh to help preview Friday’s ALCS opener between the Blue Jays and Cleveland.
The Blue Jays went deep 221 times this season – the most of any team currently in the playoffs. To put that in perspective, the Indians hit 185 homers during the regular season. However, the Indians scored 777 runs to the Jays’ 759. Additionally, the Indians smacked 308 doubles (the Jays had 276) and had almost 100 more hits overall than the Jays this season.
The conclusion you should draw from this is that the Indians manufacture runs, while the Blue Jays blast them. The 2016 Indians aren’t all that different from the 2015 Kansas City Royals, who were also a good run-manufacturing team. You can expect Cleveland to put the ball in play a lot, bunt, and play baton-passing baseball. Oh, and expect them to steal. They swiped 138 bags this season, or roughly three times as many as the Jays and good for the most steals in the AL.
Home run-anchored offences are potent, but streaky. If the Jays are hot, they’re an absolute juggernaut. If they’re not, the consistency of the Indians could prove insurmountable. Considering the Jays offence was even stronger last season then it is this season, one may feel the need to give the edge to the Tribe. But all indications seem to point to the Jays catching fire at the right time this postseason. If so, expect the homer count to keep rising.
But Jays fans shouldn’t get to ahead of themselves or full of glee. It’s still a big task ahead, with Corey Kluber getting the call in Game One and Trevor Bauer in Game Two — a reversal of how Cleveland started their series against the Red Sox. And that doesn’t even mention the bullpen, and Andrew Miller — who Francona is obviously not afraid to use in any situation, and whose left-handedness isn’t something that’s going to make the Jays’ right-hand-heavy salivate at the thought of facing him.
Sort of like Cole Ham… oh, that’s right, they fucking ripped Cole Hamels to shreds! And Yu Darvish!
Could the Jays do it again? It sure as hell will be fun to find out. Mark Shapiro is ready — telling the Associated Press today (via Sportsnet) that while he’s pleased to see Cleveland having made the ALCS, “I just feel bad that we’re going to have to put an end to it.”
Both Toronto and Cleveland have strong starting rotations. Cleveland has been missing Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar to injury, but the team boasts one of the league’s best starters in Corey Kluber. Kluber, a Cy Young candidate, is arguably the strongest starter between both teams — while Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez posted a league-leading ERA, Kluber posted a league-leading FIP of 3.26.
Behind Kluber, though, Cleveland has less depth than the Blue Jays. The team is likely to carry Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger (with Kluber, if necessary, taking the mound for Game 4 and possibly even Game 7). Clevinger is the most inexperienced of the group, the rookie has yet to make a post-season appearance.
The Blue Jays, by contrast, have better overall numbers. Estrada will take the mound for Game 1, and he’ll be followed by a strong group: J.A. Happ, Marcus Stroman and Sanchez.
2. Cleveland bullpen
As mentioned above, the Indians possess a lockdown bullpen. Over the course of the regular season, their relief corps pitched to a 3.45 ERA, second only to the Baltimore Orioles in that department. Cody Allen, Dan Otero and Bryan Shaw combined to throw more than 200 innings with a 2.43 ERA between them. Allen finished the season with 32 saves. Otero was a workhorse, pitching 70 innings with a 1.53 ERA and just 10 walks in 62 games. They were bolstered at the trade deadline when Cleveland acquired hard-throwing lefty Andrew Miller from the Yankees. His arrival opened up a variety of options for Francona down the stretch and into the playoffs, especially in light of his injury-riddled starting staff.
The Jays’ bullpen has outperformed expectations in the post-season thus far, allowing just two earned runs in 14 innings. Much of the credit is due to closer Roberto Osuna, who has been nearly perfect and upon whom manager John Gibbons has leaned heavily. But the Jays don’t have a middle reliever like Miller and Gibbons will have a tough time playing the match-ups against a Cleveland lineup loaded with switch-hitters. Grilli, a right-hander, and Cecil, a lefty, are the Jays’ primary relief options for the seventh and eighth innings, but both have struggled against opposite-handed hitters this year. Cecil has allowed a .673 on-base-plus-slugging percentage to lefties, compared to a .799 mark against righties. Grilli, meanwhile, has even more dramatic splits. He held righties to a .613 OPS this year, while lefties hit him to the tune of a .877 mark. Grilli has walked lefties at twice the rate of righties, while allowing home runs at three times his rate to righties. Cleveland will have at least three switch-hitters in their starting lineup (Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez) and occasionally four (Coco Crisp), so it will be tough for Gibbons to protect Cecil and Grilli from their weaker sides.
Completely different from the ALDS matchup with the Texas Rangers, where all of the intrigue was derived from the on-field baseball bitterness, the dominant storyline in this ALCS against the Cleveland Indians surrounds the group of roster-building architects.
The Indians’ 25-man unit is a mish-mash of acquisitions made by the one-time Cleveland front-office trio of GM Chris Antonetti, former president Mark Shapiro, also their long-time GM — and former vice-president of player personnel — Ross Atkins.
Of course, the latter two names are now the ones tasked with building the Blue Jays of the present as well as the future. But, interestingly, most of this edition of the Jays has the fingerprints of former GMs J.P. Ricciardi and Alex Anthopoulos, as well as Tony LaCava, interim GM for a month last year, all over it.
TSN Blue Jays reporter Scott MacArthur sheds light on why the Blue Jays will win the American League Championship Series, while TSN Baseball analyst Dirk Hayhurst counters with why the Indians will win the series.
Shapiro finds himself the man in the middle of the AL Championship Series as his new team, the Blue Jays, will face with the Indians, the franchise that gave him his start, for a spot in the World Series.
And it won’t just be an emotional reunion for Shapiro. Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins also came up in Cleveland’s organization, working alongside Indians president Chris Antonetti, manager Terry Francona and many others.
Shapiro was flying to Cleveland on Wednesday and planned to have dinner with his sister, Julie, who lives in the area. On Thursday, he’ll arrive at Progressive Field as he did for more than two decades, and although he knows the direction to the visitors’ clubhouse, Shapiro’s first stop will be the Indians’ executive offices, where he plans to visit colleagues who are as close as family.
“I’ve got not just friendships, but deep friendships both in the community there and throughout the Indians organization, up and down it,” he said. “It’s not just walking in to play the team, it’s walking in to play a group of people where you have a deep history and a profound respect. But I can tell you, because we’ve played them seven times already, when the first pitch gets thrown, the only emotion I feel is a competitive desire to win.”
Shapiro spent 24 seasons with the Indians, breaking in as an unpaid intern in the early ’90s. But it didn’t take long for the Princeton-educated son of respected sports agent Ron Shapiro to advance through the ranks and become one of baseball’s top executives. Shapiro has always done it the right way, displaying class and humility while moulding the Indians into a model organization and helping them navigate through difficult years when the turnstiles slowed and the club had to re-invent itself to stay competitive.
Manager John Gibbons was forced to exercise caution in round one due to the uncertain health of Roberto Osuna in the back end of his bullpen, but with Osuna, Devon Travis, and Francisco Liriano all at least trending in the right direction, Toronto’s ALCS offering should be closer to their “best” 25.
Online auction and ecommerce giant eBay Canada has seen a 35% increase in new Jays memorabilia listings since Sunday, when the hometown boys swept the Texas Rangers in the ALDS.
“With all of the activity that occurs every day on eBay, the site can act as a social barometer of trends and pop culture moments, like major sporting events,” eBay Canada spokesman Camille Kowalewski said. “The Toronto Blue Jays are on a hot winning streak, and we see that reflected through fan activity on eBay.”
It appears online-shopping Jays fans have picked Jose Bautista as their MVP, with most of the spending leaning toward Joey Bats memorabilia. Jays legends Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar are also seeing some love.
The site has observed a spike in Jays merchandise since 2015, when Toronto steamrolled into their first postseason in decades.
“Since last year, we’ve seen a 20% year-over-year growth in purchases of Blue Jays items during the regular season,” Kowalewski said.