Tag Archives: Jose Bautista

Weighing Post-season Expectations for the Blue Jays

AL East champsWith the Toronto Blue Jays having clinched the AL East this past week, I wanted to write an article explaining to Jays’ fans that we should have no expectations for the team in the post-season; we should just enjoy the ride and live in the moment. After all, this is the first time in 22 years that we’re experiencing playoff baseball and we should just enjoy it.

However, after watching the clinching game this past week and getting all excited that they finally did it, I got to thinking … Continue reading→

Blue Jays 2014 Post-Mortem

Image via Ian at BlueJayHunter.

Image via Ian at BlueJayHunter.

Anxiousness; that is one word on how I would characterize this Blue Jays season from the fan’s perspective since at no point, aside from May and early June, were the Jays playing at a level where all cylinders were clicking. Don’t get me wrong, watching the Jays in first place for 45 days was superbly fantastic, but then bit by bit, they wilted down and limped into September needing a hot month to get back into the playoff picture. Their 9-2 record from August 30th to September 10th got fans excited again, but like the extreme streakiness they’ve been known for this season, it didn’t last…Continue reading→

The 2014 Blue Jays and Handling Pressure

Meet your 2014 bearded Blue Jays - they're good enough for all of 'em to appear on Ducks Dynasty!

Meet your 2014 bearded Blue Jays – they’re good enough for all of ’em to appear on Ducks Dynasty!

Here we are Blue Jays fans on the first day of the season, it’s a time of great anticipation and ever-longing hopefulness of a successful season. Many of our Jays had inspiring springs, and although we all know spring stats mean jack, the team headed north is mostly healthy and primed to rebound from last years dreadful season.

In fact, Jose Reyes recently told Brendan Kennedy of The Toronto Star, “Last year we had high expectations, we finished last. This year, we have no expectations, maybe we’ll finish first. Who knows?” Who knows indeed. What I like about his quote though is the acknowledgement that there is in fact no pressure on them this year because no body expects anything from this team.

There is cause for optimism though as Kennedy writes in the same article, “there is bona fide science behind the notion that the Jays may actually perform better this season simply because they have been around each other longer.” I too have alluded to this before and 500 Level Fan did a really nice write up on this notion as well.

I’ve also written before that the amount of fun a team or individual has, has to out-weight the pressure to perform. Intuitively, I knew this, yet couldn’t prove it until Kennedy wrote about this research in his article, which I encourage you all to read.

This leads me to two fascinating views on handling pressure in books I’ve read this offseason. The first of which is former NBA all-time great head coach Phil Jackson in his latest book, Eleven Rings, when he said,

“When a player isn’t forcing a shot or trying to impose his personality on the team, his gifts as an athlete most fully manifest. Paradoxically, by playing within his natural abilities, he activates a higher potential for the team that transcends his own limitations and helps his teammates transcend theirs. When this happens, the whole begins to add up to more than the sum of its parts.”

He later adds, “as a coach, I know that being fixated on winning (or more likely, not losing) is counterproductive, especially when it causes you to lose control of your emotions. What’s more, obsessing about winning is a loser’s game: The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success, then let go of the outcome. The ride is a lot more fun that way.”

Letting go of the outcome … that’s not easy considering the results-driven society we live in today. Interestingly though, Buzz Bissinger similarly writes in his book, Three Nights in August, as he covers the life and mind of soon to be inducted Hall of Famer, Tony LaRussa,

“…when you’re up there [to bat in a high pressure situation], focus on the process and not the result; don’t project into the future. Forget about the noble but irrational concept of going for broke [like hitting one out]. Put away the hero complex and simply try to get something started.

That, my friends, is what I’d like to see this season – for the Blue Jays to not get so anxious and try to pull everything out of the park; to not try and win every game with a home run. The ability to relax, to appreciate the moment, and to play within one’s own natural abilities may result in a better than expected run in 2014.

There’s already been evidence this spring with the likes of Adam Lind and Jose Bautista and many others hitting the ball up the middle or to the opposite field. That’s an approach that is both welcomed and refreshing to see.

And one final thought I have for the Jays before the first pitch is thrown this year is – go get those other AL East bastards!!

Highlights from State of the Franchise

me state of the franchise

Last night, I had the privilege of attending my first State of the Franchise event at Rogers Centre, and here are the main highlights from the Q&A session:

1) Anthopoulos spoke of the emergence that both Bautista and Encarnacion experienced as players while with the Blue Jays and pretty much said for fans to believe in the club because of the potential for others to emerge. I believe this absolutely refers to Goins and Lawrie with even further gains to be gleaned from the likes of Rasmus and Lind.

2) As the below tweet shows, Gibbons got his words criss-crossed at one point by referring to Happ as A.J. instead of J.A.

Needless to say, signing Burnett would be a huge gain for the organization. Personally, I’d love to see him back in Toronto especially after the quality of performance he’s shown in Pittsburgh the last two years. Considering he wasn’t successful in winning a championship his first go around with the organization, maybe he can be a part of it this time! I think that would make his former mentor, Roy Halladay, a little bit happy.

3) Anthopoulos also said Sierra would absolutely be given a shot in the spring to win the right handed DH job due to the fact that he’s out of options, however it is no guarantee. No doubt, AA is looking for a RH bat to platoon with Lind, and I believe he will eventually find someone to fill that role, the most likely of which will involve a trade during this spring of one of his surplus, out of options, relievers.

4) Perhaps the most revealing highlight of the night was from Gibbons who said that Kevin Seitzer was brought in to be that “veteran” hitting coach compared to that of the former Chad Mottola. This clearly speaks to how Mottola pretty much left Bautista and Encarnacion alone and focused instead on the younger players who needed more support. Clearly, Gibbons thought the team needed a more veteran presence and spoke last night of the effect that hits to the opposite field can have. He specifically mentioned how Bautista and Encarnacion can take that approach as well especially in games against the league’s best pitchers. Personally, I love this mindset because Bautista, although still great, is in decline and could use some useful tools in his back pocket to take to the plate with him as opposed to always looking to knock one out.

Aside from that, I was fortunate to shake hands with John Gibbons, and learned that he loves his breakfast taco’s in the morning!! Seriously though, watching him meander amongst the fans gave me the impression that he really is an incredibly upbeat, jovial and fun-loving guy. Essentially, J.P. Riccardi was right when he said, if you can’t work for John Gibbons, you can’t work for no one. For me as a fan, it’s impossible not to love him.

As you can see from above, I got a quick picture with AA, and was able to chat with a couple of other bloggers like Ian Hunter from BlueJayHunter.com, and Gideon Turk & Chris Sherwin from BlueJaysPlus.com. They also wrote stories on the event and you can check them out by clicking on the links above.

Which Blue Jays Have Weaknesses Hitting with Two Strikes?

jose-bautistaOverall, the rate of strikeouts has increased in baseball over the course of the last several years which Scott Miller over at CBS Sports does a good job of outlining. Obviously, the hitting landscape has changed where a two strike approach is no longer valued as much as it once was. Strikeouts are way up and hitters understand that home runs get you big bucks. However, there are numerous opportunities in every game where failure to do the little things costs your team some runs. Undoubtedly this is true when a batter reaches two strikes and is unable to…Continue reading→

5 Blockbuster Deals That Could Happen This Off-Season

GiancarloStantonThe following list of players is one that sits currently in “what if” land as the players’ respective teams are saying “hands off” to three of these names, those being Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Bautista and Chris Sale. I believe it’s important to keep in mind that this tactic could simply be a ploy to let other teams know that it will take quite a package to pry these stars away. The chances of the other two names, those being Matt Kemp and David Price, I think offer a little more than just possibilities of actually transpiring. While I wouldn’t say it’s a foregone conclusion that these deals will happen, it’s fun to think of the scenarios where two teams can come together…Continue reading→

Hope for 2014?

Image via Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Image via Chris Young/The Canadian Press

It’s been well documented how bad this season has gone which doesn’t leave much hope for 2014. The Jays will have pretty much the same team as it stands now minus a Rajai Davis and Darren Oliver who are free-agents. That is pretty brutal. There’s no way anyone in their right mind can predict the Jays to finish higher than 5th place next year.

And that’s how sad things have become.

That is unless nearly all players can rebound – save for Encarnacion. Besides him, everyone should expect better of themselves.

I’m writing this post with a pretty heavy negative viewpoint with how poorly the Jays have performed. This blog normally tries to look at the positive things, hence the name Pumped Up Jays, and be factual and well read when I post my thoughts. That is unlike some other bloggers who sometimes fly off the handle making dumb, uninformed conjecture simply because idiotic notions pop into their head. “Fire AA & Gibby,” they say…as if. “Shed blood for the sake of shedding blood,” yeah right!

The knowledgeable fan will understand that knee jerk reactions are not the answer.

In all seriousness though, Anthopoulos will have to work his magic this offseason to give the fan base any glimmer of hope…and to keep the sale of tickets flowing.

Let’s lay it on the line: For the rotation, we can count on Dickey and Buehrle to make their starts, however they are no longer front of the rotation starters. No one else is dependable and that includes Morrow, Romero, Happ and anyone else who made a start this year. I say the Jays should cut ties with Josh Johnson unless he’s willing to come back on a cheap base salary with lots of incentives, but I’m not holding out hope for that. An injury plagued Ben Sheets way back when got a one year $10M deal from Oakland, so yeah.

The bullpen I’m hoping will have Janssen, Santos, Cecil, Delabar, Loup, Rogers and McGowan to round out a solid seven. Let’s pray they’re all healthy for once.

The offense will remain the same unless something drastic happens which I don’t anticipate. One thing that could occur though is Melky Cabrera could be the second coming of Frank Thomas and be released by the end of April, but that’s purely a guess on my part if he continues to suck.

In all reality, Anthopoulos has to try to improve second base, upgrade the defense in left field in addition to finding a good fourth outfielder, and at the same time, improve the starting pitching. But how will he do it?

Trading real assets like Bautista and Janssen (since the bullpen is their only area of significant depth right now) could be an option, but then it creates another hole. And make no mistake; they ARE the leaders that this team has. Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star clearly outlines the effect Bautista has on this team, and Janssen, based on his recent comments, is absolutely a leader in the pen (audio here).  He said,

“I think there definitely needs to be some kind of change with this roster that we have we have right now. Clearly it’s not good enough to compete in the A.L. East. I don’t know if you necessarily have to reinvent the wheel, but you know you got to mix and match a little bit…I try to win every game, and I’m going to continue to do that, and I’m going to get as many guys on board with me to continue to play as hard as we can to win as many games as we can.”

My darling wife – yes, we have baseball discussions which are pretty great – believes that the Jays just need time to play together as a team. They don’t have to reinvent the wheel as Janssen said, but errors & mistakes on the field tell us that they’re playing as individuals, not as a team. The talent is certainly here – just look at the A.L. leaders in OPS – Toronto has 4 players in the top 20 which includes Adam Lind at #16!! This team needs time to gel and to get to know each other. Sure enough, expectations will be low next year, which in fact could help a lot! And while that might be hard for some people to swallow, it may indeed be the case because David Ortiz recently stated, “I wouldn’t be surprised if next year they come back and just whoop everybody’s ass, to be honest with you.”

It is uber fantastic that Emilio Bonifacio is now gone and not wasting a roster spot that can go towards someone who can make themselves useful. Perhaps someone like Goins, Pillar or Gose can seize the moment and show the Blue Jays that they’re here to stay!

Certainly, that would go a long ways to settling a roster spot as well as everyone’s anxieties for 2014.

Have The Seeds For A Jose Bautista Trade Been Planted?

Jose Bautista; Gary DarlingWith the recent rumours from Danny Knobler of CBS Sports regarding the Texas Rangers interest in either Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion, one has to wonder if the Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos would entertain a trade this offseason for one of his premier players.

Surely this kind of deal would change the entire core of Toronto’s roster. In Bautista, gone would be Toronto’s best leader in recent memory whose emergence as one of MLB’s fierce power hitters helped get Toronto fans pushing for a winner once again. In moving Encarnacion, Anthopoulos without a doubt would be dealing his best, most productive hitter the last one and a half years… Continue Reading→

Who is to blame for Blue Jays struggles?

Image courtesy of Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Image courtesy of Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Lately I’ve been finding fanatical claims from some Jays fans or general MLB followers rather ill-informed because they make grandiose statements like “the Blue Jays were going to be bad because the Marlins were bad with these same players.”  Or else they blame Manager John Gibbons for what has occurred on the field as if he can swing the bat or pitch the ball for his players.

Some even incredulously give fault to GM Alex Anthopoulos saying “he has not improved the team since he got there.” GAH!

My, how short are people’s memories? Continue reading→

Blue Jays Terrible Play Saunters On

Another loss, another defeat to a division rival, and the Blue Jays are doing everything they can to turn off their fan-base. The Yankees are at a point this year where they’re supposed to be vulnerable, they’re supposed to lay over and die with their slew of injuries and yet that hasn’t happened. Somehow they’re winning and doing it with players you wouldn’t expect like Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, and Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez and others.

The Blue Jays on Wednesday managed to salvage a win in Baltimore to prevent being swept and perhaps gave us fans a chance to breathe and say, “Okay, we won that one. Now if we can just go to New York, maybe win 2 or 3 to show we’re not dead wood, maybe it’ll be the start of turning things around.” But NOOOO, it hasn’t happened.

The defence continues to struggle immensely whether its on wild pitches or passed balls like last night, or today with Rajai Davis’ brutal route on Travis Hafner’s triple in CF. It’s just not adding up to anything resembling a quality major league team.

Look we all knew Davis is supposed to be a 4th outfielder to spell guys here and there and to platoon with Lind at DH. However Davis was in CF today because Sabathia was the lefty on the mound, so Gibbons had Rajai in there instead of Rasmus who owns a .188/.188/.313 line against lefties this year in 16 AB’s. The thing is though that Rasmus has superior defence over Davis any day of the week and that resulting triple today brought that 5th and winning run across.

If anything else is plaguing the Blue Jays its the fact that players like Rasmus cannot handle full-time everyday duties due to his inability to adjust and hit left-handed pitchers subsequently resulting in poorer defence in CF when he’s not in there.

Clearly there’s a hole in Colby’s swing as well that Jack Morris pointed out today – he can’t handle the down and in slider – and therefore is being exploited by every pitcher in the league until he learns to adjust and shows that he can hit it.

Even for Jose Bautista, our star and team MVP is still batting under .200 and as the below video shows from last nights game, it seems like he can’t handle certain pitches either thereby failing to adapt his ‘home run’ approach when any hit will do to drive in runs.

Some food for thought, Bautista’s SO% is much higher than last year (23% compared to 15.8%) and the Jays as a whole are scoring on average 3.7 runs per game while allowing 5.1 runs. How many ways are there to express the word UGLY?

The pitching too obviously has been – how do I say it – exceedingly lacklustre and ineffective aside from a solid Janssen and Cecil in the pen and a few quality starts from the starting staff. However Buehrle yesterday and Happ today let the Yankees get right back in the games with poor pitch location, giving free passes and lacking the “bulldogness” to give their team a chance to get back into the dugout harm free.

On the whole, the Jays currently have the 3rd most walks allowed and the 3rd worst WHIP in all of MLB! That’s just not getting it done which is especially SO frustrating after what we thought we had in the offseason.

We’re almost done April here folks, and at the current 9-16 record, the Blue Jays sure have dug themselves a hole in the A.L. East that is going to be a B*%&^ to get out of. I’m not saying it can’t be done – they’re only (good God) 8 games out of 1st – but it’s going to take a winning streak and improved overall play over the long haul to get back into contention.