Jays From the Couch brings you the latest news and links about the Toronto Blue Jays. This edition looks at Brett Cecil, and a couple of prospects looking to prove themselves.
It was an exciting weekend as we got to watch a Blue Jays Spring Training game on Saturday! The club lost its first game of the spring on Sunday and there have been lots of story lines emerging. Here are a few of the highlights:
* Young pitcher (and model) Conner Greene took the mound for the Blue Jays this weekend and looked very good. Watching him, you could tell there were some nerves getting in the way. Even though it was a Spring Training outing, he was trying to impress. And, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tells us, Green is doing just that. He was clocked at 98 mph, which is up from the mid 90s where he will usually sit. Despite the nerves that led to him giving a little bit extra on his fastball, he was impressing with his stuff. And, that is his goal.
He is not focused on where he starts the year, but is happy coming in to camp showing the Blue Jays what he is capable of: “It’s to get my exposure and prove to everybody that I want to be here and that I deserve to be here,” Greene told Sportsnet “I think they know, but it’s always pleasant to do well.” The 21 year old will likely start in AA, but as we saw last year, the club may not be afraid to bring a young hurler North with them. That is not to say that Greene is the next Roberto Osuna, but if he can continue to impress, the Blue Jays will have to make a decision sooner rather than later.
*While a lot of folks focused on whether Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion will re-sign with the Blue Jays, another contract situation is starting to get some buzz. Brett Cecil is set to become a free agent at the end of this coming season (at 30), and his timing couldn’t be better. MLB teams are paying more for relievers than ever. But, Cecil is playing it very cool. Again, from Nicholson-Smith, we hear that the lefty is open to staying with Toronto, but is not in any kind of panic to get something done. He subtly put the ball in the team’s court by saying: “I’m up for whatever. I’m open. I’ve heard I’m very coachable, not that this is necessarily a coachable situation, but I’m a very easygoing person, very easy to work with. There’s not necessarily going to be demands on what it’s got to be. If they want to talk then we can talk. If not then we don’t.”
So, it is up to the club as Cecil will let them come to him. And, why not? The free agent market will reward his laid back approach should nothing come to fruition before then. Cecil has established himself as one of the better relievers in baseball and will be paid accordingly. He can afford to play it cool. For what it is worth, a while back, I wrote that an extension should be explored.
*Of course, the health of Cecil’s calf could factor into just how his potential walk season goes. Richard Griffin of The Star highlights the ongoing issues with the injury that removed Cecil from the postseason. He’s been feeling soreness all winter. He tried running a month after the season ended. He had to stop. He tried some running when camp started. He had to stop. Now, the Blue Jays are working with an altered plan of attack to ensure he is ready for the season. If he is not, the bullpen will look decidedly less effective. Here’s hoping!
*Switching gears, we hear that the city of Dunedin would suffer greatly should the Blue Jays relocate their Spring Training facilities. Steven D’Souza of CBC shares the story of a shop lady who doesn’t even sell Blue Jays memorabilia and sees a huge increase in her business this time of year. She is just one example of a member of the local economy who benefits from having the increased tourism, etc. The deal between the club and the city expires at the end of 2017.
New president, Mark Shapiro, spoke about the facilities in Dunedin: “This is a functional situation that has a lot of the old spring training charm to it, but the reality is when your competitors who are competing against you for wins,every single day are operating in facilities that are more advanced, that offer more opportunities for your players to improve and develop, you need to make sure that you’re not only keeping up with them, that you are moving ahead of them.” Shapiro has put the ball in the city’s court to fix the issue.
*Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com writes that the future of Aaron Sanchez may not be as clear as we thought. Chisholm suggests that if the club is looking forward, they may want to keep Sanchez stretched out to start, which means heading to Buffalo. Many of us figured that he had a leg up on the competition for the 5th starter job, which would make this an unexpected turn of events. Before we get worked up about it, we should probably bear in mind that Chisholm is framing this with the idea that either Jesse Chavez or Gavin Floyd really step up this spring. For some reason, this doesn’t seem likely. How good would they have to be and how bad would Sanchez have to be?
*Finally, we hear that catching prospect, Max Pentecost, is slowly progressing. He is just reaching the point where he can start throwing a ball back to the mound, according to Gare Joyce of Sportsnet. The 22 year old describes his progress as follows: “I’ve been here for about a month so I’ve been strictly doing weight-room stuff, trying to get as strong as I can in my scapula and get as much stability in my shoulder as I can before I start throwing.” For those of us who are looking forward to seeing him in 2016, this may or may not be good news. When he’s ready, the season will be underway. In order to get his bat in the lineup, he could be switched to first base. He is open to that, but insists that any move would be temporary. He sees himself as a catcher.
*Featured Image Credit: udo.d UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.