Blue Jays takes care of the small details, ensuring that the Kikuchi Gem is not wasted

If winning is the best coin, Blue Jays brass should plan accordingly

Danny Janssen’s absence made clear a few things about Alejandro Kirk, although they probably don’t satisfy everyone. Is he defensively good enough to work with an elite staff of a club with big ambitions and remove any lingering notions of being a man of the bat? I mean, he was good enough last season to be a catcher for Cy Young’s winner but if confirmation is required, the answer is yes.

As Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said that day: “The best compliment I can give him is the best compliment you can give to whoever catches it: Everything feels like a blow.”

All is well and in good health. But can he hold out to be the number one and contribute aggressively? I would suggest “no”. It had been a month without an additional base hit and it was clear that the Blue Jays were, to put it politely, aware of the workload behind the board. But that’s fine. Jansen deserves to be #1 and there is a path forward for Kirk to be a contributor by striking a balance between the designated hitter and the spare pickup point, a plan that becomes more viable if he can be paired with a left-handed hitter in the DH. Or, it can be traded, because the only thing that has not changed is that Gabriel Moreno is still in the organization.

Moreno, Blue Jays MVP, hits 323 in Triple A Buffalo. He still had to leave Thursday’s game shortly after hitting a pitch. When General Manager Ross Atkins is asked about Moreno, the focus is on the learning he does as a leader and speaker on the field. What it doesn’t do is use PitchCom. Oddly enough, given the way Major League Baseball tests at every level of the minor leagues — the automated ball and hit system is used in many parks — PitchCom has not yet been used to communicate with signals at the Triple-A level.

Both Atkins and bench coach/holding coach John Schneider believe Moreno’s career in the Major League – when that happens – will be positively impacted by PitchCom, which ruled out some loopholes (Adam Semper took to the hill in spring training and wasn’t in sync with Schneider’s laughter – “You should have seen the look he was giving us” — and Vladimir Guerrero told the Junior Blue Jays he thought the first head coach could hear the call when he was wearing the device) was well received by teams across the league. Alec Manoh is a notable exception, who says he prefers to “go old school”.

Moreno didn’t get the chance to use the technology for spring training because visa issues prevented him from being camped with Major Legors. For the Blue Jays, Moreno’s rise to the top at a time when his PitchCom might be more nuanced could be a godsend in terms of speeding up the nuances of handling big-league-level shooters — especially if the majors delay the execution of the pitch clock.

For now, it will only be a problem if Moreno is called up to the major this season… and that’s a topic for another day. long-term? Who knows what the extra comfort level might mean for a hunter who whenever hacked would play meaningful games with a team that now wants to win? It definitely can’t hurt, though.

“The combination of PitchCom and not having a pitch clock would help anyone,” Schneider said. “It removes a lot of the intricacies of tags. The hardest part for him (Moreno) is that he hasn’t had a chance to use it yet. But I mean, it’s really like learning your way around apps on a new iPhone.”

Try the catcher. Originally the Guys and everyone else thought their hunters would wear it on the wrist. Now, it’s often attached to an area above the knee pad, with the catchers covering the device with their glove so hitters can’t peek. One of my personal favorites was seeing the Houston Astros’ Martin Maldonado wave him like a duct changer between his knees while on a bend, then attach it to his knee pad before lifting his glove.

Schneider is not surprised that PitchCom has become so widely accepted. Its effect on the pace of play has been obvious – not always for the hitters’ fun – and you wonder if everyone has concluded that at the end of the day it’s better to give players some control over the pace of the game than to tyrannize the countdown clock in the middle of the field. To leave it in their own hands, as it was …

Hit and run

• You know New York Yankees hitter Aaron Judge hits the Orioles, with 30 times in 76 career games between the two. You might also have an idea that’s a massive number, and that would be true: since 1990, only six other players have racked up the most home guards in that short period against a single team, including Alex Rodriguez, who scored 30 in his first 76 . Matches against Blue Jays. It’s an a la carte roster, including Sammy Sosa (twice!) who scored 30 in 74 against the Brewers and 30 in 76 against the Rockies. Chris Davis scored 30 in 65 games against Rangers, Troy Glaus scored 30 in 74 games against Rangers, and Joe Dimaggio only needed 63 games to get 30 set-pieces against the St. Louis Browns.

• ESPN’s Buster Olney sure got people excited in a good, clean, and fun way when he speculated that the Blue Jays and San Diego Padres might be interested if the citizens of Washington chose to trade with Juan Soto, who has two years left after this. Before reaching the free agency.

Soto participates in the conversation as the best player in the game, he’s only 23 years old (younger than Bo Bichette), well I guess the fact that the Blue Jays and Padres are widely known to have been the favorites to get Jose Ramirez before his re-signing with the Guardian, It would have made the first teams National General Manager Mike Rizzo would call: They had prospects, finances, a competitive window and didn’t address the need for left-handed batting that saw them boldly follow Ramirez in the first place.

Soto’s two-and-a-half-year-old has been controlling the pigeon’s tail well with Vladdy/Bo’s window and his defensive abilities on the field opening up all sorts of options. But, man, it’s hard to see getting there from here. There’s no way Ramirez and Soto get equivalent payouts, plus I don’t get it from the citizens’ point of view. True, we know that the Nationals enjoyed trading Bryce Harper for the Houston Astros at one time, and correct, Soto’s agent, Scott Borras, refused to extend the $350 million for his client. But Boras also has a history of getting things done with the citizens (Steven Strasbourg is his client).

The Wild Card is likely where the potential sale to Citizens currently stands. Logic would suggest that you’d rather buy a team with a key player than without him. On the other hand, it is possible that a potential new buyer, once the existing ownership and management team has done its dirty work. Rizzo is in the last year of his deal and he’s totally geared up to wear the black hat…

• Frequent listeners and readers will know that I abhor having the strike box on broadcast television, mostly because an educated baseball fan should be able to spot the strike zone on their own. And here’s something else Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins mentioned: We know that MLB score referees using a special strike zone box give umpires the advantage of doubt on zone edges, effectively meaning that the TV zone is smaller than the one referees are required to use. Which means that no one really serves the area shown on the TV, which means, by extension, that you are all preoccupied with something that the important people do not use. Life is too short for that. And most of you are smart enough that they don’t need it…

• Carlos Correa made a decision this year with huge ramifications for the free agent market. I’m not talking about settling a three-year, $103.5 million deal with the Minnesota Twins — one that includes opting out after each year — but rather his decision to appoint Boras as his agent.

This created an intriguing scenario, as Boras already represented Red Sox player Xander Bogarts, who could also opt out if he’s willing to leave $80 million on the table over the next four seasons. Talk about market manipulation. The Bogaerts’ standing became the dominant topic of conversation in Boston due to Red Sox problems early in the season coupled with the presence of Trevor Story, who had a miserable start after signing for six years, a $140 million deal to play second base and act as insurance in the event that Bogaerts provided or made it. Available and has already been sung by the Fenway Park Hymn “Re-Recording Bogart”.

I still can’t believe the Red Sox will trade the Bogaerts on the season, though General Manager Chaim Bloom’s Rays DNA suggests letting him walk isn’t an option. Either way, has anyone surprised that between the dramas surrounding Juan Soto, Bogarts and Korea on the horizon, Porras has positioned himself in the middle of the biggest drama of the seasons? And it’s not even Victoria Day.

End game

Damn those Toronto Maple Leafs. I was here, doing a good job forgetting how the Blue Jays would be able to lock up both Guerrero and Bechet, and then the Leafs went and accepted another year from Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner and reminded us all that every season without the title is a missed opportunity.

Now, it’s true that the clock is ticking faster in a salary cap league like the NHL, but it’s also true that the earlier a franchise wins, the easier it is to make tough decisions. Ask Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos if winning the world championship made it easier to let Freddy Freeman walk. SHOT: Ask Raptors president Masai Ujiri if he would be able to give Kyle Lowry the same charitable exit without an NBA title.

Blue Jays management and ownership have long-term decisions looming, and winning pronto brings some kind of currency, financial or otherwise. So I prefer focusing Jays sooner rather than later on the bulls arm with swing and miss (Ben Nicholson-Smith does a good job of dealing with that) and adding a left-handed racket has some results.

The Blue Jays’ problems with balance did not go away with the re-signing of Jose Ramirez with the Guardians. If anything, as Kevin Parker suggested, the kind of elite the Blue Jays have seen so far should add more checking of the need for balance than if they are feeding off bad teams. Jays needs now is what it was then, and since the draft has been pushed back to July from June, there should be enough regulatory bandwidth available to move early if the opportunity presents itself.

Jeff Blair hosts Blair & Barker of 10-Noon ET on Sportsnet 590 / The Fan and Sportsnet 360.

2022-05-20 14:07:00

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