Jays From the Couch brings you the latest Toronto Blue Jays news & links. This edition: Sanchez, Jimenez & more!
Wake up! Pitchers and catchers are reporting! After a long, cold winter, void of any baseball, we are so close to the crack of the bat, the pop of the mitt! It’s Spring Training, baby! And, as a result of that, you’re likely to be inundated with a myriad of stories telling you what to look forward to this spring. We tried to find other things to talk about today.
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* At Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci listed pitchers he feels are a risk to injure themselves in 2017 due to an increased workload last season. Now, he admits that his results are not based on a scientific method for evaluating or predicting injury. But, he uses the increased workload the players took on last season to indicate whether the team should perhaps plan accordingly, adjust their innings, etc.
So, it should come as no surprise that Aaron Sanchez is on that list. The 24 yr old saw his innings total jump from 92 in 2015 to 192 last season. As much discussion as there was about his workload in 2016, the club did what it could to help him out. They added an extra starter to the rotation for a while. But, Sanchez continued to show he was not slowing down.
Verducci worries are as follows: “Sanchez has terrific stuff and a strong work ethic, but the one concern about his delivery is his arm action. He pulls his elbow back and up on his arm swing, causing him to be late loading the ball when his foot hits the dirt.”
The fact that Sanchez put on solid weight last offseason and continues to develop into his frame this winter will no doubt give us all some hope. However, injuries happen. And, whether it is Sanchez, or another starter, this is where the Blue Jays will suffer most at the moment. They need to explore pitching depth.
* Ben Nicholson-Smith tells us that that is exactly what they’re doing:
#BlueJays continued keeping tabs on starting pitching depth options in free agency this week
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) February 11, 2017
That means that there very well could be a couple more of those super exciting minor league deals in store. But, there are other places to look. For example, as Spring Training wears on, clubs will get closer to narrowing down their options. As a result, some pitchers may become available due to being designated for assignment, released, etc. It could be an opportunity for the Blue Jays.
For example, a guy like Drew Hutchison may find himself on the bubble with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Our friends at Pirates Breakdown explore the idea of Hutch making the rotation out of the gate. An argument in his favor is that he’ll be making $2.3M in 2017 and that is an awful lot to pay a guy to keep him in AAA, which is not exactly the Buccos’ way of doing things.
That is not to say that Hutchison should be someone the Blue Jays target, but he is an example of the kind of pitchers who could find themselves on uncertain ground, should the Blue Jays wish to wait things out a bit.
* Back to Sports Illustrated for a moment. Jeremy Fuchs writes that the Blue Jays have not done enough to put themselves in a good spot this offseason. Essentially, his argument is that the loss of Edwin Encarnacion leaves too great a hole in the Blue Jays lineup. Calling Kendrys Morales “Encarnacion light” might be accurate, but it sells the DH short. Fuchs neglects to mention that Morales will move to the AL East, which will likely have a positive impact.
As well, Fuchs bemoans the loss of Michael Saunders. He calls Saunders an All Star, which he was, but completely glosses over the second half that Saunders had AND the poor defensive play the Canadian put up. In fact, the ‘Saunders situation’ should probably prove to be dealt with in 2017. Even at the very least, the Blue Jays will benefit from improved defensive play.
Fuchs gives the Blue Jays offseason a C+, which is interesting because our readers – who follow the Blue Jays regularly – were asked for their grade in our recent sidebar poll. The majority gave the winter moves a B, with a C at a close second. For his part, GM, Ross Atkins joined Bob McCown to offer his take on the offseason. You can listen HERE. As you can expect, he explained it was a lot of “heavy lifting” over the winter, but the club is in good shape.
He also mentions the high performance department, the intergation of a new baseball operations team and a more “robust” analytical department, which won’t have an obvious impact on the ‘on field’ product, but will definitely have a behind the scenes impact.
* The Blue Jays have released A.J. Jimenez. After designating him (and Chad Girodo) for assignment to make room for recent bullpen additions, the club has decided to part ways with the 26 yr old Puerto Rican.
Per #BlueJays, catcher A.J. Jimenez has been released.
— Gregor Chisholm (@gregorMLB) February 13, 2017
Jimenez was drafted in 2008 out of high school, but never managed to fulfill that ‘catcher of the future’ label. In the Blue Jays organization, that label just might be the kiss of death. In his 9 seasons in the organization, he never could develop his bat, stay healthy AND show off his defensive skills at the same time.
At one point this offseason, it looked as though he would be the logical option to backup Russell Martin in Toronto, but the signing of Jarrod Saltalamacchia (and having Reese McGuire, Mike Ohlman and others in the system) made Jimenez expendable.
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