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The Season Is Dark and Full of Terrors

Gibbons2016_01After a pre-season that has seemingly lasted as long as a Game of Thrones winter, we’re finally less than a week ahead of Opening Day for the 2017 campaign.

And while there is much optimism for the Toronto Blue Jays once again, the season, like a Game of Thrones night, is dark and full of terrors. Not everything always goes according to plan. And sometimes the good guys die.  Continue Reading »

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Gibbons Extension Good News For Blue Jays

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Photo c/o John Lott

The Toronto Blue Jays have locked up manager John Gibbons for two more seasons, with a club option for 2020.

Gibbons, who gets far less respect than he deserves from segments of the fan base, sits second in franchise history for manager wins, just 250 behind Cito Gaston.

For whatever reason, some fans have just not taken a liking to ol’ Gibby. Whenever things go wrong on the field, Twitter is quick to fire up the #FireGibbons discussion (or #FyreGobbins, if you prefer). For my money, this anger and blame is misplaced.  Continue Reading »

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7th Inning Stretch Podcast #22 – Minimum Wage

podcast itunesAaron Sanchez is in the Spring Training headlines again, this time over the low price of his new contract. Matt and Asher discuss the long- and short-term repercussions of the deal. Will Sanchez be tabbed to start Opening Day? If not him, then who? Left field still looks like kind of a mess, and the guys sprinkle in some WBC thoughts along the way.  Continue Reading »

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Who Should Start Opening Day?

We are officially three weeks away from Opening Day–at the time of this writing. By the time you read this, it will probably be closer than that. Spring Training has dragged on, mainly because of the lack of storylines in Blue Jays camp. The biggest news items are the injuries to Josh Donaldson and Devon Travis. While it seems Donaldson is all but a lock to be ready to start the season, the news on Travis isn’t so optimistic. It was announced late in the afternoon on Monday he’ll DH in a minor league game Tuesday, without running the bases. The biggest hitch in his recovery seems to be lateral movements. So while this advancement doesn’t give us any more insight into whether he’ll be good to go on April 3, it’s impossible to see it as anything but positive.

Aside from those relatively minor injuries, the only real positional battle is for the last spot in the bullpen. This is assuming we believe John Gibbons when he says Ezequiel Carrera & Melvin Upton Jr, will split the duties in left field, with Steve Pearce sprinkled in, and Justin Smoak at first. So with all that seemingly settled, what else do we have to talk about? Something trivial and meaningless, of course. Like who should get the ball at Camden Yards for the first game of the season! Continue Reading »

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7th Inning Stretch Podcast #21: Spring In Our Step

podcast itunesWith Spring Training under way and most of the roster set, Matt & Asher discuss what roles we might expect from Justin Smoak, Steve Pearce, Melvin Upton and Dalton Pompey. Are there any surprises in the bullpen? And which early-21st century catcher does Matt remember so well in Name That Jay? Continue Reading »

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Going Smoakless

“This is a ‘don’t get hurt’ kind of spring.” — Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling on The Jeff Blair Show

stock_smoakThe above was a quote from the thirty minute roundtable with Jeff Blair, Stephen Brunt and Arden Zwelling on Sportsnet 590 this morning. A thoughtful, honest, level-headed discussion between three of the brightest baseball minds at the station. (Full audio can be found here.)

Aside from a battle for the last few bullpen spots, which, let’s face it, is not very sexy, the biggest opponent the Blue Jays will face when Spring Training opens this week, is themselves. Continue Reading »

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X-Factor: Steve Pearce

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Photo courtesy Blue Jays on Twitter

Last month, I started to take a look at some players who might be under-the-radar contributors to the Blue Jays season. If all goes to plan, you know what you’re getting out of Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin. Even if that core group can stay healthy and produce as usual, you’re still going to need contributions from elsewhere in the line-up. And that’s where the group of x-factors comes in. Continue Reading »