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MLB Trade Rumors: Los Angeles Angels’ Brandon Wood to Toronto Blue Jays?

With news that the Los Angeles Angels have designated Brandon Wood for assignment earlier this week, the rumors regarding possible trade destinations have started to emerge.

According to John Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, Toronto could be a potential landing spot.

“The Toronto Blue Jays expressed interest in trading for infielder Brandon Wood as recently as this offseason, sources say.

And there is every reason to believe the Jays will check in on him again… because his former status as one of the game’s elite prospects will make it virtually impossible for him to slip through waivers.”

Primarily a 3B, Wood has the ability to play all four infield positions and with Toronto’s infield in a state of flux (Enacarnacion is back at DH and Hill is injured) this move does make some sense.

However, what about current hot corner prospect Brett Lawrie? 

Currently with the AAA Las Vegas 51’s, Lawrie is mashing to the tune of .410/2/10 with an otherworldly 1.110 OPS.  The knock on his game has always been his defense, which hasn’t changed as he’s already made six errors this year with an ugly .889 fielding percentage.

Wood, on the other hand, is an above average defender with an offensive pedigree even more impressive than Brett Lawrie’s.

Wood’s best minor league season was back in 2005 when he hit .321/43/116 with a 1.055 OPS.  However, he’s still managed to average 28 home runs a season in AAA since 2007, while bouncing back and forth between Salt Lake and LA.

Though like Lawrie, he strikes out far too often which has limited him to a career .168 batting average in 494 Major League plate appearances.

Which begs the question, is it worth moving assets to acquire a player who could be lightning in a bottle while blocking the pathway for prized prospect Brett Lawrie?

I think it is.  If Dwayne Murphy can transform Jose Bautista from a journeyman into a premier power hitter, then I say let him take a crack at Brandon Wood.

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MLB Power Rankings: The 10 Best Curveball Wizards in the Game Today

There is an unmistakable link between the warrior tales of classical history and those of popular sports.  Both contain a rich mythological tapestry where lifelong loyalties are forged and heroes are made of men. 

Among these heroes are the craftsmen, for the annals of Baseball lore are rife with the names of the masters of their particular arts.

Home runs are the domain of the Herculean—demigods like Aaron, Ruth, Mantle, McGwire and Bonds.

Stolen bases were left to those who worshiped at the alter of Artemis like the fleet-footed Cobb, Hamilton, Brock and Henderson.

However, there are those who chose a different path—one that differed from the raw physicality of their brothers at arms.

The wizards of the curveball arts.

Past diamond warlocks like Feller, Pascual, Nolan, Gooden, Ryan, Blyleven and Koufax are true grand masters. 

However, there is a new breed….

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Toronto Blue Jays: Is Brett Cecil Out When Brandon Morrow Returns?

According to Gregor Chisholm of, Brandon Morrow is set to make his second rehab start tomorrow (Tuesday) as he battles back from minor elbow troubles.

Via Twitter: “Morrow allowed five runs over three innings in his first rehab start last Thursday, so the Blue Jays will hope for better results this time. The Jays will reevaluate after Tuesday’s outing, but he might need another rehab start before being activated from the disabled list.”

Even though this is indeed good news, the conventional wisdom is that Jo-Jo Reyes will be relegated to the bullpen once Morrow returns. Turns out that may not be the case.

The pitcher with a bull’s-eye on his back could very well be 2010 15-game winner Brett Cecil.

After two rough starts to begin the season, Cecil has a 0-1 record and an unsightly 7.20 ERA. Now, two games usually provides a poor measuring stick of future success, but the culprit for this recent swoon is a decrease in velocity, which has been an issue for Cecil since spring training.

Brett Cecil has never been mistaken for a flamethrower, but he does get his fastball up to 94 MPH.  This season, he’s been struggling to get it over 90, maxing out at 91 on only a handful of pitches.

That seemingly small drop in velocity has made Cecil increasingly hittable these past two games, which include an ugly 10-hit, five-earned-run performance in five innings against the Angels on Saturday. 

For a ground-ball pitcher like Cecil, losing those extra 3-4 ticks on the radar is witches’ brew that spells nothing but disaster. It softens the break on your cutter, keeps your fastball up in the strike zone and renders your changeup useless. 

Meanwhile, after getting roughed up in his first start Jo-Jo Reyes bounced back with an impressively scrappy outing against those same Angels last night.

One day after the marathon game on Saturday that ended in somewhat of a controversy, Toronto really needed Reyes to eat some innings to give their bullpen a reprieve.

Mission Accomplished, as Jo-Jo pitched seven workmanlike innings, allowing three runs (one earned) while striking out six and walking only one batter.

Another point to consider is the option factor. Reyes is out of options, so any move outside of a shift to the ‘pen would require releasing or trading him. 

Meanwhile, Brett Cecil still has minor-league options available and may be well-served with a short-term rest and demotion.

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Toronto Blue Jays: 10 Bold Predictions for the 2011 Season

The Blue Jays will take the field in just a few short hours as the 2011 baseball season officially begins.  With 162 games still ahead of us, optimism is high.

However, after putting together this slideshow, I wonder if that optimism hasn’t morphed into delirium.  I’m usually the general leading his army of skeptics and buzzkills, but I think someone spiked my coffee this morning.

Regardless, the following 10 slides are set in stone.  So it is written, so it shall be done.

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Toronto Blue Jays: With Brandon Morrow on DL, Is a Trade Looming?

With the news that Toronto has placed pitcher Brandon Morrow on the 15-day DL with right elbow inflammation retroactive to March 22nd, the battle between Jesse Litsch and Jo-Jo Reyes for the fifth spot in the rotation is rendered moot.

Acquired from Seattle in December of 2009, Morrow has blossomed into a top-end starter and one of the crown jewels of the Blue Jays young rotation. However, this set back is a bit disconcerting regardless of the optimism coming from team officials.

“It’s one of those things where we’re being extra cautious,” says GM Alex Anthopoulos. “Really, we’re talking about him missing a start. He is adamant that he can go. We just want to let everything (in his elbow) calm down for four or five days. Why try to rush when it’s only one start.”

Going into the season now will be a rotation of Ricky Romero, Kyle Drabek (taking Morrow’s spot), Brett Cecil, Jo-Jo Reyes (currently fairing well against the Yankees as I write this) and Jesse Litsch as the fifth starter.

A silver lining to this is the opportunity for Alexopoulos and skipper John Farrell to get a longer look at Jo-Jo Reyes. Acquired with Yunel Escobar from Atlanta back on July 10, 2010, for shortstop Alex Gonzales, Reyes was sent immediately to AA but has acquitted himself well so far this spring.

A former second round pick of the Braves back in 2003, Jo-Jo was once regarded as a future rotation stalwart for Atlanta and was even their top pitching prospect as late as 2007. However, after struggling with his control and getting roughed up when pitching in the bigs his star began to dim.

Subsequently, Reyes was passed over by younger prospects like Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens and Kris Medlen and was deemed a AAAA player by Atlanta and thus expendable.

After his trial by fire tonight on live television versus the Yankees, Reyes has another minor league start scheduled, as well as a regular season home start against the Oakland A’s on April 5th. If Morrow does indeed return in time for his second scheduled regular season start as Anthopoulos believes, Jo-Jo has three chances to make his case for a full-time gig in Toronto, otherwise he risks being claimed on waivers as he’s out of options.

However, if the Morrow injury is worse than what’s reported and Reyes blows it then it’s conceivable that Toronto might make a move. With minor league assets like David Purcey, David Cooper, Brad Mills and Eric Thames the Jays have the chips to go get a starter.

But it won’t be Kevin Slowey, in spite of how many times reports it.

With his salary it just wouldn’t make sense to get a guy who’s nothing more than a stop gap. Unless Toronto adds a starter of significant enough calibre to be a fourth or fifth starter all season, like a James Shields (who’s slowly getting squeezed out in Tampa Bay), then I can’t see Anthopoulos making a knee jerk move like a trade for the soft tossing Slowey.

Update: Jo-Jo-Reyes has just wrapped up his 6th inning of a two-hit shut out ball against the powerful Yankee lineup. Purcey will probably start the 7th as he’s been warming up for the past 10 minutes. So much for those Slowey rumors.

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2011 MLB Injury Update: Dustin McGowan of Blue Jays Placed on 60-Day DL

According to various sources, including the Toronto Star‘s Richard Griffin, the Toronto Blue Jays have placed pitcher Dustin McGowan on the 60-day DL.

For the much-maligned McGowan, this is a major blow to yet another comeback attempt. In fact, this could be the death knell for what was once a very promising career.

Drafted in the first round back in 2000, McGowan was a flamethrowing Georgia high school sensation with control issues. For his first few years in the minors, little changed.

However, the slow-developing prospect eventually turned the corner in 2007 after lighting up AAA with an 11.6 K/9 and then getting called up to replace an injured Gustavo Chacin.

McGowan took this opportunity and ran with it. He finished the year 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, including two complete games and a no-hitter that he took into the ninth inning against Colorado.

However, halfway through a slightly disappointing follow-up campaign, McGowan was lost for the season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Following a torn ACL in 2009 and then a torn rotator cuff not long after, a July 8th, 2008 no-decision against the visiting Baltimore Orioles would mark the last time Jays fan have seen him pitch in a major-league game.

UPDATE: Further reports have just been released by that the Blue Jays have placed Dustin McGowan on the 60-day DL as part of his rehab, not because of a setback or any further injury. The club has made the decision to transition McGowan to a reliever full-time, as it’s believed this will reduce stress on his repaired labrum.

“The thing that you run into there is, what is the fatigue level, once you get to 80 pitches and above?” [John] Farrell said. “Is that where more damage takes place? Because if that’s the feeling—[and] that’s the feeling of the medical staff—now, you’re looking at a five-inning starting pitcher.

“That’s why we have to bring him back in a role that doesn’t have limitations, that doesn’t affect everybody else on the staff.”

Although this cloud apparently has a silver lining, we still may not see McGowan pitch for Toronto in 2011, if at all. There is still a long road ahead for this once future staff ace.

Nonetheless, Coach Farrell is cautiously optimistic:

“The most important thing for Dustin is that he’s had no setbacks,” Farrell said. “[There’s been] no need for added rest on the program he has been on. It still has a chance to be a very good ending to a tough road that he has travelled, but [it takes] a quality person to answer those challenges.

“He has some hurdles yet to come, but if somebody is going to do it, it’s someone with his resolve and intensity that will get there.”

Good luck, kid. Blue Jay Nation is behind you.

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Toronto Blue Jays Sign 17-Year-Old Dominican Outfielder Francisco Tejada

News broke that Alex Anthopoulos and the the Toronto Blue Jays have signed Dominican Outfielder Fransisco Tejada to a reported $150,000 bonus.

According to

“Tejada is a 6-foot-4 outfielder with an above-average arm, plus bat speed and the potential to develop into a power hitter. He also is considered a plus runner having run the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds.”

As a former high school sprinter I can tell those of you uninitiated that a 6.5 60 is incredibly fast. I ran in the Toronto Indoor Track Finals for 60 metres and the best I could muster was a measly 7.4. Incidentally, that was a lifetime best.

Further reports state that until this signing, Toronto was the only team in Major League Baseball this season to have not inked a player from the Dominican Prospect League.

Regardless, with both this and the January signing of 16-year-old Dominican LHP Jairo Labour (also 6’4″ with a 92 mph fastball) to a $350,000 bonus, its clear that Alex Anthopoulos is devoted to Latin American scouting. We haven’t seen that depth of talent mining since the halcyon days of Pat Gillick when we signed teenagers like Tony Fernandez, Damaso Garcia, Alfredo Griffin and Carlos Delgado.

With that in mind, look out for my prospect report to be released by Monday.

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Free Agency Be Damned: A Look At The Toronto Blue Jays Coaching Staff

Thank Jebus for Proctor and Gamble, because Bounty paper towels did a great job cleaning my vomit off the floor after I read about the Carl Crawford signing.

The dude is now the highest paid outfielder in history and he’s not once hit 20 home runs or knocked in 100 RBI’s.

Meanwhile in Colorado, Carlos Gonzalez has an erection—but I digress.

I needed to step away from the insanity of free agency, so I decided to take a closer look at the re-vamped Blue Jays coaching staff. Since the beautiful (overly sentimental) departure of Cito Gaston, GM Alex Anthopolous has hired former Red Sox Pitching Coach John Farrell as his replacement.

I’ll admit I knew little about Farrell before the interview process began. However, his pedigree with young arms like Bucholz, Papelbon and Lackey, not to mention endorsements from respected baseball people like “Un-named GM” really impressed me.

In the end, I was sold after watching the press conference where his hiring was announced. Relatively platitude free, Farrell seemed like an honest, straight shooting guy with the requisite savvy needed to relate to today’s pampered athlete; he also appeared to have a nice blend of older brother aloofness and cool dad authority that seems to gel with young players.

The proof will be in the pudding, but he will nonetheless be a refreshing departure from the comatose managerial style of Cito Gaston.

Zombies eat brains; Cito ate my soul.

So without further ado, here is my humble examination of a few key (non-managerial) Blue Jay Coaching hires.

Don Wakamatsu – Bench Coach:

I’m not sure what was more alarming about this hire: The fact that Don was just fired by Seattle because the Mariners sucked, or because he doesn’t look even remotely Japanese. 

Either way, I needed to really dig into this.

Turns out Tokyo Don was a career minor league Catcher who built a reputation as a superb game caller. If only he could hit a lick, he may have played more than nine MLB games.

Why is this significant? Catchers are great observers of the game and as a bench coach, his perspective will be a nice counter balance to the pitcher Farrell. 

Not to mention his ability to craft the finer points of J.P. Arrencibia’s emerging talent.

Torey Lovullo – First Base Coach: 

Lady-ish first name aside, I’m really excited by this hire. Luvollo actually interviewed for the Dodgers in 2006 and the Pirates in 2007, while he was the Manager of the AAA Buffalo Bison’s (Cleveland).

Most recently, as the Manager of the Red Sox AAA affiliate Pawtucket team, Luvollo brings a wealth of experience for such a young guy, as he won’t turn 46 until late July.

In short, Luvollo is a natural leader and his talents as a utility infielder and teacher offer insurance in case Brian Butterfield departs.

Pat Hentgen – Bullpen Coach: 

Outside of a stint in the minors, this is a great place for a first crack at MLB coaching. 

Know the line-up, know the hitters tendencies, work on the pitches and game-plan to get the one to three outs needed from the arms in the pen.

As I evaluate this hire, it’s tough separating my insatiable love for Paddy Hentgen, the former Blue Jay and Cy Young winner, from Coach Hentgen, member of John Farrell’s staff.

However, this move intrigues me.

I fully realize that there is an undercurrent of pandering chauvinisim involved here; be that as it may, Hentgen is no shrinking violet nor party hack.

On the contrary, Pat won a Cy Young due to balls and brains. He was never a lights out type like Halladay or Clemons, nor was he a sharp shooter like Maddux or Cliff Lee.

Rather, Hentgen was known as a pitcher who would throw strikes early, and then break your ankles with a 12-6 curve if you gave him the count.

It’s this combination of courage, tenacity and craftiness that could provide a marvelous influence on Toronto‘s collection of talented young arms.

Conclusion: Homerism notwithstanding, this an exciting young managerial staff. 

Adding this kind of fresh talent to a group that already includes Batting Coach Dwayne Murphy, Third Base Coach Brian Butterfield and Pitching Coach Bruce Walton further enhances an already strong posse of baseball minds.

In other news, the Yankees jack up their offer to Cliff Lee.

Where are those paper towels?

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Blue Jays Banter: Lyle Overbay’s Successor Is…J.P. Arencibia?

When Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos traded away Toronto’s anointed next great First Baseman Brett Wallace, even the most hardcore of fans were perplexed.

We tried to console ourselves with speculation regarding Adam Lind taking over 1B full time or waxing poetic on Anthony Gose’s huge upside (the guy we got in exchange for Wallace).

However, there was still this lingering feeling of confusion and even a bit of trepidation.

I wrote an article a few months back about the Lyle Overbay – Brett Wallace hand off (which you can read here). I clearly stated that it was only a matter of when, not if, Wallace would take over. My confidence in that opinion was so stout that it was almost sacrosanct.

It seems Alex Anthopoulos didn’t get the memo.

A few days after the trade deadline, John Buck gets injured and Toronto calls up one of our other prized prospects, J.P. Arencibia. 

The hype surrounding this kid had been steadily growing as he continued to destroy Class AAA pitching. In 379 minor league at bats before his call up, Arencibia was hitting .303 with 31 HR, 79 RBI and a mammoth .639 Slugging Percentage.


As I watch this kid step in to the box for his first major league AB, the first thing I notice is how imposing he looks in there. No sooner have I completed this thought when he takes the first pitch over the leftfield fence.

J.P. Arencibia 1 – Major League Pitching 0

He then proceeded to hit a single, a double and another homerun to finish his day four for five with three runs and three RBI.

Ok, so what am I getting at? Let me toss out a few names for you:

Joey Votto, Victor Martinez, Carlos Delgado, Jimmie Foxx, Bryce Harper.

The first four were all minor league catchers (although V-Mart still dabbles) and were converted to 1B early in their careers.

Bryce Harper is destined to play RF or 1B by the time he becomes MLB ready. His bat is too special to only get 130 games out of.

Major League clubs, specifically AL clubs, are beginning to rekindle their affections for Catchers built in the mold of days of yore:

The Gary Carters, Yoggi Berras and Ernie Whitts. 

Great game managers who know how to work with pitchers and play great defense. 


Offense? Just don’t embarrass yourself and at least put the ball in play. 

That is clearly an over simplification but you get the point. Baseball’s love affair with the Mike Piazzas of the world is over (Joe Mauer notwithstanding). Offense is just too valuable to waste on a position with limited at bats. As well, from a player/agent perspective, why play catcher with its greatly reduced shelf life and hinder your ability to earn money? 

Which brings us back to J.P. Arencibia – by the time he was done completing arguably the greatest offensive debut in decades, all I could think of was “Brett Wallace who?”

You get the memo this time, Alex?

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This Bird Is Cooked: Toronto Blue Jays’ SP Shaun Marcum Hits DL

The Blue Jays have placed starting pitcher Shaun Marcum on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation. Although it’s not uncommon for pitchers who’ve had Tommy John surgery to experience a few lingering issues, this has to be alarming to Blue Jays brass.

After last night’s start, the Jays right-hander is 7-4 with a 3.88 ERA in 17 starts this season. His spot in the rotation will most likely be handed over to Brian Tallet (shudder ).

The Marcum injury comes on the heels of a five-game losing streak that saw the Jays fall from Wild Card contention. This will assuredly turn GM Alex Anthopoulos into a seller as the trade deadline approaches. 

Toronto is 9.5 games behind the Yankees for the AL East and 8.0 games behind Boston for the Wild Card.

The swoon may not be a surprise to fans with a more skeptical or analytical eye, but that doesn’t mean this turn of events is any less disappointing.

Furthermore, for those espousing the fantastical trade value of guys like John Buck and Fred Lewis, I draw your attention to the recent Bengie Molina trade .

Molina was sent to the catcher-needy Texas Rangers in exchange for reliever Chris Ray and minor league pitcher Michael Main .

Although not a bad haul for a veteran catcher, it’s not the top-five prospect jackpot that some Jay fans fantasized about in a John Buck deal. Also, by all accounts, Bengie Molina is a better player, albeit not having as good a season as Buck.

Although a fire sale is not anticipated, Toronto can be expected to move as many as four regulars as Anthopoulos continues to tinker with the fringe players and restock the minor leagues.

With the Yankees, Twins, and Red Sox representing the final nine games before the All—Star break, the Marcum injury could end up the least of our worries.

It’s going to get ugly.

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