Kevin Goldstein released his list of the Blue Jays top eleven prospects and you have to be happy with the talent on the list. At the top is catcher Travis d’Arnaud. The 2007 first round draft pick raked at Double-A last year and while he’ll probably spend the front part of the season in the minors, it’s going to be hard to keep this kid down. I like the chance of seeing d’Arnaud in the All Star Game at some point in the next few years.
Outfielder Jake Marisnick is second and while he’s a little further away then d’Arnaud, there’s a lot of talent here as well. He’ll be in the Florida State League which is historically a pitcher’s league but hopefully he’ll be able to hold his own.
Daniel Norris is the top pitching prospect and he was their second round pick in 2011. He signed too late to play but he’s a hard throwing left handed pitcher. Anthony Gose (OF) and Noah Syndergaard (RHP) round out the top five.
The Blue Jays avoided arbitration with outfielder Colby Rasmus as they signed him to a one year, $2.7 million deal. The former first round pick came over to the Jays in the three team deal that included guys like Octavio Dotel and Edwin Jackson.
Rasmus belted 23 home runs in sophomore campaign but he struggled in 2011 with a .225 batting average between the two teams he played for. He was awful for the Jays in the final two months of the season with a .517 OPS. He has a solid hitting eye and can draw some walks so there’s upside here. He’s also still young and he’ll turn 26 in August.
The Blue Jays signed left handed relief pitcher Darren Oliver to a one year deal with an option for a second year. We’re pending a physical so the financial terms haven’t been disclosed yet. Oliver just turned 41 but he had a solid season for the Rangers the last two years when they’ve made the World Series.
He had 44 strikeouts and 11 walks in 51 innings. He doesn’t have a big platoon split either so while he’s not death on lefties, he’s also good against right handed hitters so he’s a guy you can throw out there for a full inning rather then using him as a true LOOGY. One concern is his workload has come down the past few years. He threw 51 innings and that was the fewest frames since 1995.
Still, this is a solid pickup and he should help out the pen. He’ll most likely be used as the team’s set up man along with Casey Janssen.
Leading up to the posting for Yu Darvish, it seemed like the Jays were being mentioned as the favorite but they came up short to the AL champs, the Texas Rangers. The auction was secret so we’ll never know how close they were but the Rangers got him for a record $51.7 million.
Alex Anthopoulos was one of two general managers to travel to Japan to look at Darvish and the Jays seemed interested in the pitcher for a while. It’s just too bad they didn’t go a little higher. Darvish would have been a nice addition to the Jays staff.
The Blue Jays sent some cash to the Cleveland Indians for infielders Luis Valbuena. The Indians had designated him for assignment and the Jays were able to work out a deal for him rather then taking their chances on him getting through waivers. The move now gives the Jays 40 men on their 40 man roster so they’re filled to capacity at the moment.
So far, Valbuena has been great in the minors but pretty bad at the plate in a big league uniform. In Triple A, he hit .302 with some pop last season but in 229 major league games, he’s hit just .226. At this point, we’re not quite sure how the Jays are going to use him but a potential power bat at second base is something that’s good to have no matter what.
Well, Jose Bautista was the best offensive player in baseball yet he still finished third in the AL MVP. I can live with Justin Verlander winning the award (Bautista and Verlander were actually tied in WAR) but Jacoby Ellsbury finished just ahead of Bautista in the voting. Some of this stuff is just absurd. Someone gave Bautista a ninth place vote. Then again, someone gave Ellsbury a tenth place vote and another person completely left Verlander off the ballot.
Last year Bautista came in fourth place despite hitting 54 home runs so I’m not surprised by the lackluster performance. Still, until the voting gets under control (one Texas reporter gave Michael Young a first place vote and in 2007, when A-Rod was by far the best player, you had a couple of Detroit reporters giving Magglio Ordonez some first place votes) this crazy stuff is going to happen.
For a .500 team, the Jays had an above average offense. They finished fifth overall in runs scored and then they were sixth in OPS. Of course it’s a lot easier when you have the best hitter in baseball in Jose Bautista. The slugging outfielder led the league in home runs with 43 and walks with 132 and his 1.056 OPS was also tops. Brett Lawrie played in just 43 games but his impact was heard late in the season with a .953 OPS and those two guys should be mashing for the Jays for some time.
After that, it thins out a little. Adam Lind had 26 home runs but he had an OBP below .300. J.P. Arencibia was about the same with 23 home runs and a .282 OBP. Yunel Escobar was a nice surprise with eleven home runs, 61 walks and just 70 strikeouts.
On the bad side, Aaron Hill was awful during his time with the Jays. The former slugger finished with an OPS+ of just 57. Not much better was Rajai Davis, who played in 95 games and had an OPS+ of 67.
The one wild card is Travis Snider. The former blue chip prospect is still only 23 but it was another year where he spent a lot of time in the minors. Hopefully soon he’ll be able to put it together.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 years since the Blue Jays won back to back World Series titles. 1993 was a fun season that saw Jays make it to the show again and that series against the Phillies had plenty of drama. That’s why A&E choose Game Six of the 1993 World Series as one of their “Baseball’s Greatest Games.”
The Jays stormed out to an early lead only to see the Phillies come back with five runs in the seventh to take a 6-5 lead. This stuck until the ninth inning when the magic happened and for only the second time ever, the World Series ended on a walk off home run.
Be sure to check out some of the other cool titles in the series. The oldest game is the other walk off home run back in 1960 when Bill Mazerowski got it done. Game six of the 1975 World Series is another one to check out.
The Jays are going to miss the postseason and whenever I hear about MVP candidates, more times then not, Jose Bautista isn’t in the discussion. It’s a shame because the season Bautista is having is truly a great one. One of the big reasons Bautista doesn’t have 50 home runs already is because pitchers stopped throwing to him. He leads the league with 108 walks and the next closest is Miguel Cabrera with 88. His OPS is over 100 points better then the next closest, David Ortiz. Yes, Curtis Granderson has as many home runs and he plays for the Yankees but if Bautista had the lineup protection that Granderson had, his numbers would be even better.
If there’s one knock on Bautista, it’s his second half. His first half was a monster one but in the second half, he’s hitting just .256. Still, his OPS is .925 which would still be one of the best in the league. Still, 50 home runs isn’t out of the question for Bautista.
Jose Bautista is the best hitter in baseball right now. What many people thought was a one year fluke, Bautista bounced back in July to have one of his best months of the season. His off July had him with a .835 OPS. In July, it was 1.068. It’s still trending down after the first couple of months, but those were just unreal.
In July, he belted seven home runs but he drove in 19 runs, which is his second best month. That puts him at 31 on the season. 60 is going be stretch, but he’s on pace to hit around 45. Still, it’s his rate numbers that are awesome. He sits with a .324/.459/.655 line and that’s just crazy, Barry Bonds early 2000s numbers.
I know his OBP is down from the .500 mark he had earlier in the season but it’s hard to expect him to keep up that kind of pace. Still, to put it in perspective, if he finished with a .650 or higher slugging, it would be some pretty select company. Albert Pujols did it in 2009 and he’d be the 24th player to do it since 2000. If he finishes with a .675 mark, he’d be the first person to do it since Barry Bonds in 2004 when he had an awesome .812 mark.
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