Jays From the Couch brings you the latest Toronto Blue Jays news and links. This edition looks at the team’s confidence and being an industry leader.
The Toronto Blue Jays kicked off their series against the Yankees last night for their 3rd straight series against a division rival. Talk about starting the year off running. Anyway, here is a collection of news and rumblings in Blue Jays Land:
*Confidence. It can be fuel to greatness, or it can bite you in the rear. A team has to play with just the right amount to be successful. The Blue Jays are an interesting example of that. At Sportsnet.ca, Mike Johnston brings us the confidence that LF, Michael Saunders has in his club. Johnston is passing on words from when Saunders joined 590 The Fan where he laid it out quite simply: “This year, this time around, we’re the big dogs in the AL East. We’re the defending [division] champs and this is the most talented clubhouse I’ve ever been a part of.” At this time of year, it is easy for players to throw around this kind of language, but the Blue Jays seem to all be saying the same thing. Whether they are the “team to beat”, or not, is up for debate, but what isn’t is the belief they have that they indeed are. It would be interesting to get your take. Are the Blue Jays the team to beat?
*Just a few days ago, we were reminded that the development contract with the Buffalo Bisons was due for renewal. That is no longer an issue. The Buffalo News lets us know that the Bisons have signed on with the Blue Jays for 2 more seasons, which means the conversation will be up for examination at the end of the 2018 season. That is an interesting timeframe given the outlook for some of the talent the Blue Jays have in their system. They should be just about in line with appearing in Buffalo by then, which would generate some buzz around the team just in time.
*Ever wonder who the lady is that gets to sit in the best seats Rogers Centre has to offer? You’re not alone. Many people have asked that very question. And, Nicole Brockbank tries to find out for CBC.ca. Except, the problem is that no one actually knows who she is. There are theories that she is related to the Rogers family in some capacity. She is not. Others figure it is Kellie Watson, who chose the name for the SkyDome oh, so many years ago. It is not. Brockbank then refers to Sportsnet’s Barry Davis who says she’s a season ticket holder and has been right form the beginning. Basically, there is no answer yet. In all honesty, if it is neither of the first two, the issue should be left alone. It is nice to have a bit of a mysterious presence, other than the “Man in White” in the outfield. No, this unknown couple should stay that way.
*Over at Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci brings a very interesting read about how the Blue Jays are ahead of the league in exploiting the newest market efficiency: holistic health. Just when most teams had caught up with analytics and “moneyball”, the league is starting to take a new turn, and the Blue Jays are leading the way thanks to new president, Mark Shapiro. Shapiro describes his latest efforts thusly: “How do we keep the players on the field as much as possible and—when they’re on the field—performing at the highest potential level of performance possible?” But, the reality is not that simple…at all. Instead, the club has hired Dr Angus Mugford as the Director of High Performance (you know how baseball titles are going) and he oversees the mental and physical side of routines optimal for performance.
It is no longer about even avoiding injury. Instead, it is about a player’s sleep, diet, mentality, etc. The home clubhouse has a juicebar and the club calls ahead to visiting clubhouses to make sure they have all the same ingredients to make the special nutritious drinks. The team has instituted morning group yoga and has tried to make a team breakfast on the road, which wasn’t as popular as sleep. But, the team also is working to ensure the proper amount of sleep. The idea is that having high performing players is great, but if you can get an extra win or 3 out of each of them, you’re looking at a huge advantage.
The interesting thing about this is that the organization is looking at implementing some of these practices in its minor league affiliates too. Peanut butter and jelly is being replaced by something more healthy, though it is not going to be the steak and lobster the big league club gets. Recognizing that the young players need this kind of attention too (and early) is only going to help them long term.
Around the League:
*Fresh off his 5yr extension, Gregory Polanco could be ready to have a breakout year in Pittsburgh says Jacob Oberdorf of Pirates Breakdown. After signing for $30M+, Polanco is looking to build on his overall game. Oberdorf says that he is showing early signs of a more patient approach at the plate, which will result in higher OBP, etc. However, if he can also improve his run production (likely with better at bats) and base running, he very well could prove to be a steal for the Bucs. Oh, and he’ll help form quite the outfield combination for the next few years.
*If you thought the confusion over MLB new slide rule was over, Delia Enriquez of Bronx Baseball Daily is here to tell you that it isn’t. Apparently, Joe Girardi, manager of the Yankees is not overly clear on the rule either. He has put in a call to Joe Torre, but expects that there will be growing pains. Right now, he feels as though there is room for a judgement call on the part of the umpires, which is never a good thing. Rules should be very clear so as not to be subject to that human (error) element that the league is trying to eliminate. So, there you go. This isn’t just a Blue Jays issue. It’s league wide. Unfortunately, the only way to get it better is by letting it play out and working through the kinks, which could mean a few more games decided on the heels of this rule.
*Over at BBST (Baseball, Bullpen and Sock Talk), Jen Rainwater says that the Oakland Athletics dodged a bullet when it was announced that former Blue Jay (that’s right) Felix Doubront will need Tommy John surgery. She feels that the club should never have been willing to give the 5th rotation spot to Doubront in the first place. Now they’ll have to figure out the rotation using other pieces like Jesse Hahn or Henderson Alvarez of they can get their stuff together and be healthy, respectively. Either way, Blue Jays fans could likely side with Jen on this one.
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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.