Try Not To Vomit: My Message To Michael Felger

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Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


I could begin this article with some cliché statement like "I don't know where to begin!" or "Where do I start?" or something like that, but I'm so disgusted that I'd rather just get right into it.

Michael Felger, a radio personality for one of the local sports stations here in New England - 98.5 The Sports Hub - had a rather revolting and nauseating take regarding Roy Halladay's untimely, tragic, and unfortunate death. If you haven't listened to it, here's 11 minutes of pure and utter bullshit. Try not to vomit - 

I'd love to get into a battle of wits with this guy, but unfortunately he'd arrive without the appropriate arsenal and would be at a severe disadvantage. If you haven't listened, basically Felger's take is that Halladay - who passed away less than 36 hours ago - deserved to die for "thrill-seeking" in his plane. The exact quote, "he got what he deserved." 

How vile, insensitive, and sociopathic can you be? I can understand that mmmaaayyybbeee you can have the opinion that Halladay understood the risks involved when it came to flying a plane. Hell, I can also understand why you would think that Halladay should have been more careful when operating the plane. I get that and I don't think that those takes are unreasonable - albeit insensitive (especially now). However, to come out on the radio and proclaim that any individual deserved to die as a result is absolutely disgusting. It's so repulsive that it makes me sick just thinking that someone would even defend this.

Felger claims that Halladay "got what he deserved" because he ostensibly prioritized the thrill of flying his plane rather than being mindful of his own well-being for the sake of his wife and children. Felger claims that Halladay would rather “joy-ride in the sky” and “risk death” than be a family man (or whatever Felger's definition of that is) and completely disregard his wife's plea to cease the activity. 

Felger, the presumptions that are spewing from your mouth aren't blind to me - and apparently aren't blind to the majority of sports fans in, not just here in New England, but throughout North America. Your cold and insensitive remarks about a man whose wife and children are still grieving reveal exactly what kind of a human being you are. To say that you think that Halladay "got what he deserved" is quite revealing and something that you ought to explore with some good ol' fashion introspection. 

To say that Halladay "got what he deserved" is beyond hasty and shows that you are void of any sort of empathy towards other people. This is a father and a husband - a man renowned and revered within the baseball community, a future Hall of Famer, and a man that has dedicated a huge chunk of his career to charitable work on his own (just Google "Doc's Box" and the "Halladay Family Foundation" because, only an imbecile such as yourself wouldn't know about these things before making such a profoundly stupid comment). To say these things and actually mean them says more about you than it does about the dangers and risks that Halladay may have assumed while flying the plane. It shows that you show no value for human life if someone decides to do things that YOU find "reckless" or "dangerous" or "thrill-seeking" because you simply can't relate to it; as if you ought to be the one to be the barometer for self-worth. Unfortunately for you, there's this giant world outside the bubble that you pride yourself in and it doesn't operate under your assumed morals or way of life. 

No, Halladay did not "get what he deserved" when he flew that plane this week. It was an accident. No one - NO ONE - "deserves" to die when doing things for a thrill; and that is assuming that this was the reason Halladay flew his planes at all! Is it something that apparently you or I would do? No, it's not. But that, in and of itself, does not mean we ought to assume that if someone does do such a thing - even if it's for the thrill - and dies as a result that it is what he or she deserves. That is like saying that if anyone decides to go sky-diving, or ride on a roller-coaster, or do ANYTHING with an ounce of risk and dies as a result, it is then deserved. How anyone could possibly reach that conclusion is not only asinine, it's honestly a bit disturbing. 

I get it. You don't agree with what he did. I get it. You saw the video TMZ posted moments before the plane crash. I get it. You wouldn't do what Halladay did because you like to keep it safe and minimize risks. I get all of this. But to say that another human being - let alone a father and a husband - "got what he deserved" is just sickening, tasteless, and void of any compassion for your fellow man. This wasn't a man under the influence of any substances that chose to put not only his own life but the lives of others in danger. He died as a result of an accident. It's literally that simple. No one "deserves" to die from anything that you find to be risky.

But you don't stop there. You have to beat it to death and rub salt in the open wounds by mocking the activity. You couldn't help to put on a show that I'm almost positive made your co-hosts equally as uncomfortable as almost every person that listens to your garbage take to try to justify your position and prove your point (by the way, you did neither). Do you care if his family hears this? Do you think that if you did something that I found to be risky or unwise and you died as a result that your wife and children would like to hear me mock your death? Do you think they'd say "Wow! This Adam Corsair guy has a point!" as a result of some diatribe that I spew? I hope Karma isn't something you believe in. No one that would put on that kind of performance could possibly believe in that sort of thing, right? 

Halladay didn't "get what he deserved." He didn't. What is deserved is all the justifiable negativity, venom, and vitriol you get, not just nation wide but throughout the entirety of North America. 

Halladay's life and legacy has been celebrated by people that are far more eloquent and qualified to do so than I ever could. This wasn't the Halladay piece I had intended to write, and I had every intention to write my own sort of "eulogy" for one of - if not the - greatest Blue Jays pitcher that I have ever had the privilege to watch every 5th day. But what you did, Felger, is unzip your pants and take a giant piss all over what he stood for and what he represented simply because you thought you were justified in doing so. For no other reason other than you feeding your own ego with your condescending diatribe. 

To say you should be ashamed isn't enough. As a resident of Rhode Island in New England, a die-hard Toronto Blue Jays fans for as long as I can remember, I felt a sense of responsibility to respond to this and portray how putrid and disgusting your remarks were. This is a line that you cannot uncross and I hope you're prepared for the backlash you'll receive. 


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


Talking Birds - Episode 1

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The Debut Episode of the Talking Birds Podcast!

"The Offseason"

Adam Corsair & Ryan DiFrancesco of Jays Droppings are joined to discuss all the latest regarding the Toronto Blue Jays.

Recorded Wednesday, 11/1, we discuss the World Series, the off-season moves we anticipate the Jays to make, the positions that need to be filled, the rumors regarding Rogers selling the team and/or the naming rights to the Rogers Centre, and much more!

Join us in our quest of Talking Birds!

Follow Ryan DiFrancesco on Twitter: @RyanDiFrancesco
Follow Jays Droppings on Twitter: @JDroppings
Follow Adam Corsair on Twitter: @ACorsair21
Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter: @SouthOfThe6ix
Visit Ryan's work HERE


What We've Learned (2017 Edition)

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Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


2017 was a year that most Toronto Blue Jays fans would like to forget. Given how successful both the 2015 and 2016 seasons were, we anticipated the team to be a lot more competitive than they actually were, leading to perhaps another playoff run. Even despite the fact that the team decided to move on from Edwin Encarnacion - which wasn't at all entirely the fault of the Blue Jays' Front Office - with the addition of Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce, we approached the season as if the Jays had enough offensive talent to mitigate the loss and still power their way through. Moreover, with how strong the starting pitching staff was (on paper, at least), there was no reason to believe that the Jays would be able to overcome such obstacles as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Orioles once again. 

Yet, things don't always end up the way we anticipate that they will, and this is no exception. The Jays suffered a large number of injuries and unfortunately did not have the depth in the system to properly fill in the gaps in order for the team to accomplish the goal of reaching the Post Season. Such injuries proved to be crucial, as Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, and Aaron Sanchez were all out for an extended period of time, thereby delivering a crucial blow to the team and its production. In addition to those extended losses, Josh Donaldson's early season injury coupled with the time it took for him to fully recover and become the offensive juggernaut that we are familiar with (he wasn't quite right until about August), along with Devon Travis being bit by the injury bug again, the Jays hoped to attain the second Wild Card spot if they wanted to make the Post Season at all. The Jays never were able to climb out of the 0-9 hole they dug themselves in at the start of the season, and were also never able to reach the .500 mark throughout the entirety of the it as well. Whether it was injuries, under-performance, improvements from the teams within the American League, or all of the above, the Jays never found a way to overcome such obstacles and the season ended with a lot to be desired.

The end result was a 76-86 record, placing them 4th in the AL East jjjuuusssttt above the Orioles - who finished 75-87. Being 10 games under the .500 mark is a massive drop-off from how they finished the year prior (89-73) and it's almost as if we were watching a completely different team than what we expected. That's mostly because... well... they were. But having said all of this, there were a lot of things that we could learn from as a result of the 2017 season. We shouldn't shy away from the bruises and the ugly things we witnessed from this team, as they will end up being things that the teams will really need to focus on in order to improve. But, as fans, we should pay particular attention to both the tangible and intangible things that we can learn from when looking back at this past season. 

Thus, with the World Series almost underway, it may be the perfect time to reflect on what we've learned over the course of the season and how we can apply it to the 2018 season to better prepare ourselves, as fans. So let's break it down.

1. Depth is Key

I think it's fair to say that it's going to be harder and harder to rely on both Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin to be able to play a full season for the Blue Jays for the remainder of their contracts (2021 & 2019, respectively). Given the physical demands of each position, the whole "playing on turf" thing, and their respective injury history, the outlook of them being able to crack even 100 games each may be asking a bit too much. Things don't look much better when we throw Devon Travis into the mix. Travis, although young and full of potential, has yet to play a full season during his short tenure as major league player. It's unfortunate to say - and I'm almost reluctant to do so - but it's hard not to consider him injury prone and to rely on him playing a full season until we actually see him do it. Thus, these are three incredibly crucial positions (catcher, short stop, and second base) that are occupied by three players that we cannot totally rely on to seize throughout an entire season. With how productive these three players are when they're at their best, the drop-off in production is noticeable and, more importantly, detrimental to the team on the whole when they aren't in the lineup for a prolonged period of time due to injury. This is way serviceable and reliable depth is key.

Now, I don't say "reliable" in the sense that their respective replacements need to stay healthy, exclusively. That's certainly part of it. But when the team is penciling in players like Ryan Goins, Darwin Barney, Jarrod Saltamalacchia, Luke Maile, Miguel Montero, Rob Refsnyder, and Chris Coghlan into the lineup, it won't yield the results that is typically produced from a winning team. Basically, they're bodies to fill the positions out of necessity. 

Thus, it's absolutely critical that the Jays acquire talent that can fill in for these positions when they (inevitably) have to, without a massive drop-off in production. Sure, no replacement level talent will produce the same results that Travis, Martin, and Tulowitzki will be able to when they're 100% healthy - and no one is expecting them to. But to have depth on the bench that will be able to at least mitigate the loss of these players will be crucial to the Jays' success in the 2018.

This, of course, is wwaaayyy easier said than done, and I am not taking the "JUST GO OUT AND GET IT!" approach that a lot of fans take towards the Front Office. But, I don't think it's too much of a tall order for the them to take on. 

Moreover, I understand that the drop-off in production is greatly exacerbated when all three of Travis, Martin, and Tulowitzki are out at the same time. Much of the woes that the Jays experience had a lot to do with just this, so it'll be hard to be able to find a utility infielder that would otherwise be ready to occupy one of short-stop or second base. It gets way more difficult when both of those positions need to be filled. I get it. 

But, in order for the Jays to not fall in the standings, they'll need to have much more reliable and effective depth.

2. Blisters

The Jays, as well as the MLB in general, have to figure out whether or not there's a direct correlation between the newly developed/constructed baseballs and heightened amount of blister issues that some pitchers experienced this past season. Of course, for the sake of this post, I'm aiming most of the concern over at Aaron Sanchez and how he was unable to rebound throughout the vast majority of the season as a result. 

With the massive amount of potential that Sanchez has, as well as the high expectations the organization and fanbase has for him as a starting pitcher, it's really unfortunate to see him miss time as a result of something that we would otherwise consider to be minor. However, that's obviously a misjudgment on our behalf as a lot of fans are completely blind to how detrimental a blister on a pitcher's throwing hand is in terms of how much it can effect his movement and velocity. You have to understand that the seams of the baseball are basically being gripped a certain way and are continuously rolling off the pitcher's fingers in such a way that makes the baseball break or elevate, or drop, etc. If there's something preventing a pitcher from being able to throw what is necessary in a given at bat (i.e. a blister), then the pitcher will be left exposed and.. well, the end result won't be pretty.

Thus, some sort of investigation process needs to be performed by the MLB, or at least by the Jays if they still plan on relying on Sanchez to be an important part of the starting rotation (which, why wouldn't they?). They Jays simply cannot afford to cross their fingers and hope that this is just a blip on the radar for Sanchez. Not reaching unrestricted free agency until 2021, the Jays will need to have Sanchez at his best for remainder of his contract if they are serious about being contenders. He simply won't be able to pitch the way we all know he is capable of pitching if he continues to suffer these blister issues. 

Given how young and talented Sanchez is, this should be one of the Jays' top priorities this off-season.

3. Leave The Memories Alone

I'm pretty confident in saying that we have probably seen José Bautista play his final game as a Toronto Blue Jay. Not only am I confident with that, but I'm also pretty ok with that, too. Look, it's not that I don't appreciate all of the incredible moments that Bautista was able to give to us over his long tenure as a Blue Jay; I truly do. It's just that I personally hate seeing someone that was such bright spot for the Jays during a time when they were so hard to watch perform like a shell of his former self. 

Thus, perhaps this year - if nothing else - provided both the fans and Bautista to have a little bit of closure, as well as the opportunity to say "thank you!" and "goodbye." With how much Bautista wanted over the off-season coupled with the Front Office's reluctance to overpay for his services, it seemed unlikely that we would have been able to do that. Thankfully, though, he was able to witness how much fans in the city of Toronto appreciated him and his efforts throughout the years, as he left the final home game of the season to a massive standing ovation that is hard to forget and not get a bit teary eyed over. 

It's one of those things that is extremely important to Toronto sports fans, in particular, to the point where it shouldn't be tainted. Unfortunately, with that sort of send off, it certainly looks as though the writing is on the wall for Bautista and his time as a Blue Jay is, in fact, over. Moreover, it certainly seems as though Teoscar Hernández has turned enough heads within the organization that he may be the heir to the right field throne that Bautista has occupied throughout much of his time as a Jay (although, it may not necessarily be simply handed to Hernández). 

It's one of those things that remind us how incredibly special this team is and how much we not only value, but respect and appreciate the players that have cemented themselves into legendary status among the fanbase. Bautista will certainly one day be on the Level of Excellence, and he's more than earned that right. Perhaps the second best Blue Jay of all time (No. 1 goes to Almoar guys. C'mon...), the way Bautista was able to show his respect for the organization and, more importantly, the city was done in a such a way that it's probably best for both parties to walk away from each other and meet again down the road. 

4. It's Not That Easy (with Donaldson)

I've talk about this before, and I know it's a very touchy subject, but 2018 is going to dictate a lot when it comes to the future relationship between the Toronto Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson. I believe that depending on how successful the Jays are next season will determine whether or not they decide to offer Donaldson a long-term deal to stay. and 2017 sort of showed that they operate this way.

Look, I get that he - much like Bautista - is one of those special players that fans latch on to and have a hard time letting go of. But, if the Jays find themselves to be in a similar situation that they were this past year at the trade deadline, perhaps it's best for the organization's future if they move Donaldson for a package of highly ranked major league ready prospects. The Front Office seems to have a soft spot for young controllable players and have not said otherwise. Further, the aspect of both 1) getting into a bidding war with another ball club and/or 2) signing a 32/33 year old free agent to a massive contract has never served this organization well. When examining all of the factors, it's not as simple as "Just sign him!" as many fans would like it to be. Signing Josh Donaldson to a lucrative and long-term contract has the very high risk of preventing the organization to sign other players that will be needed to fill necessary holes. Moreover, with the likes of Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. being so hyped and almost prophesized for 2019, along with Morales and Smoak being on the team for next several years on much cheaper contracts (than JD will cost), it's hard to find a spot for him to play on a daily basis.

Thus, don't be surprised if the organization moves on from Donaldson if it means securing their future for years to come. Regressing is a thing and it's very hard to find examples of 32/33 year old players that are signed to 5-6 year deals worth upwards of $25-$30MM per year and perform as such throughout the majority of that contract. I'm not saying the Front Office won't do this - I simply don't know. But their past signings and moves lead me to believe that they won't.

Which brings me to...

5. Trust Atkins & Shapiro

For too long now have fans been vacantly critical of both Atkins and Shapiro to the point where it's comical. The main source of contention that such fans have towards the duo is their "failure" to sign Encarnacaion; all while completely ignoring the fact that they offered Edwin a 4 year $80MM contract that included a 5th year option worth $20MM, bringing it to a possible total of 5 years at $100MM. If you haven't noticed, this is considerably less than what Edwin ended up signing for in Cleveland (3 years at $60MM with a $20MM option). They ignore the fact that it wasn't the lack of trying on the parts of Atkins and Shapiro, but a matter of overestimating the market by Encarnacion's agent, Paul Kinzer. All such fans pay attention to is the end result - no Edwin - and falsely conclude it's all because of Atkins and Shapiro's reluctance to spend, without doing any sort of investigation of the facts. But I digress...

The team of Atkins and Shapiro have made some very solid moves for the Jays, such as acquiring Teoscar Hernández in exchange for Francisco Liriano (the latter of whom we acquired by trading away Drew Hutchinson). They have an eye for talent and are doing all that they can to build a sustainable competitive team that will be a threat for other teams within the American League. Thus, with how much leverage and patience they gave the Jays this year, as well as the talent that they acquired at the deadline, we should expect them to be aggressive this off-season and regard them as genuine when they say that they do not want a repeat of last season.

This is especially evident with how aggressive they were in their extension with Marco Estrada. They wasted no time in getting the deal done, thereby already started solidifying their starting rotation before the season even ended. Simply put, they know what they currently have isn't enough to compete for a playoff run and will do all that they can to make that possible.

Does that mean that they'll be successful in doing so? Not necessarily, but it's incorrect to reason that this because of them rather than players' reluctance to sign with Toronto for really dumb reasons (travel, taxes, customs, etc.). But if you've learned anything throughout the course of the 2017 season when it comes to both Atkins and Shapiro, I hope it's that they are serious when it comes to winning. They want to win and want to keep bringing that playoff atmosphere to Toronto. 

Why wouldn't they?


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 23

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Blue Jays Round Table to End the Season

  • It's time that we put the 2017 Blue Jays season behind us and set our sights on the years to come. But for one final time, we will look in the rearview mirror and talk about what we've learned from this past season and what needs to be done to improve the Jays' chances on arriving to October baseball once more. What are our expectations? Is there a big trade in the Jays future? What are the plans of both Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro when it comes to building a contender for 2018?
  • To help answer these questions, the South of the 6ix Podcast is proud to assemble its very first Round Table Discussion entitled "Let's Put It To Bed." Participating in the discussion are three baseball minds that are both well-respected and extremely sharp when it comes to their evaluations regarding the Blue Jays. With me I have Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) creator & writer of BlueJayHunter.com and host for the Blue Jays Hunter Podcast, as well as Chris Henderson (@Baseball4Brains) & Brendan Panikkar (@Panikkar37), both of whom are contributors over at JaysJournal.com.

It's a fantastic Round Table to put our minds at ease for 2018 while reminding us that there's a lot to look forward to!

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Music:
Drake Stafford - "Casets"
Auxl Studio - "Blue Bloods"

Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter: @ACorsair21
Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter: @SouthOfThe6ix

Music: 
Drake Stafford - "Casets"
Auxl Studio - "Blue Bloods"

Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or SoundCloud. Please share it with your fellow Blue Jays & Raptors fans, let them know about it, spread the word and I'l forever be in your debt. Don't forget to leave a review to help this become more accessible to people searching for Jays and Raptors content! 

Also, please visit our Patreon Page if you're feeling generous! Anything will help and there is nothing that's "too little." Each donation helps keeps the lights on, the website running, and the podcast rolling. 

Thanks for listening!

SOT6 Podcast - Episode 21

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Podcast hosted by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


Talking all things Toronto Blue Jays!

  • With only a handful of games left in the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays season, our sights have been firmly set on the front office and the direction the Jays will take for 2018. We're encouraged with names in the Minor League system, but we're curious as to how management will be able to bridge the gap and compete next year, as they intend to. Would this involve trading players away to help build a sustainable winner? Or does this involve pushing the chips all in, yet again, and sacrificing what little depth the Jays have? 
  • To help answer these and other questions, I have special guest Brendan Panikkar (@Panikkar37) of JaysJournal.com joining me via telephone. Brendan's knowledge of the Toronto Blue Jays is quite vast and he helps breaks down the concerns that Jays fans have, as well as provide some quality input as to where this team may be heading for years to come. We also reflect on this past season and Brendan offers his perspective as to how the season unfolds. 

It's definitely an episode you will not want to miss!

Music:
Drake Stafford - "Casets"
Auxl Studio - "Blue Bloods"


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 20


Talking all things Blue Jays in this one! 

  • As the season comes to a disappointing end, we Jays fans are left wondering what the future holds for the ball club. Will the woes that have plagued this Blue Jays team resurface and prevent them from making a post-season run in 2018? Or will some of the younger talent that is developing in their Minor League system help give the team an extra boost of energy to reclaim their spot as the team team in the AL East?

  • To help answer these questions - and a lot more - is Dr. Jay Blue from BlueJaysFromAway.com and the Blue Jays From Away Podcast (@JaysFromAway). Dr. Blue goes into detail on such Minor League stars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, Danny Jansen, and Rowdy Tellez. Plus, we discuss what the future may hold for the Blue Jays & Josh Donaldson in terms of a contract extension. Lastly, we close the show remembering José Bautista and the impact he's had on both the city and the team.

    This one you won't want to miss!

  • Music: Drake Stafford - "Casets" & Auxl Studio - "Blue Bloods"

The Weekend Hangover - Episode 9

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Episode 9 of the Weekend Hangover featuring Ryan DiFrancesco (@RyanDifrancesco) of JaysDroppings.com (@JDroppings) and Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21) of SouthOfThe6ix.com (@SouthOfThe6ix) are joined to discuss the latest regarding your Toronto Blue Jays!

We discuss such topics as Marco Estrada returning on a one-year deal, the Josh Donaldson trade debate, and celebrating the accomplishments and impact of Jose Bautista!

Enjoy!

 

2018 Hinges on Josh Donaldson

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Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


Before anyone freaks out, or calls this post "click-bait," or persistently tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about (... OK, that last one may be true), it's critical to understand what I'm going to outline in this post and what I am not. What I am not advocating is for the Blue Jays to trade Josh Donaldson, just because. What I am advocating for is for us to examine what the benefits would be in the event that the Blue Jays do decide it's best to trade their MVP caliber third baseman. This will heavily depend on the direction that the Jays decide to go in 2018, which I outline later in this post. There's a not-so-subtle difference between the two and I hope you can recognize the distinction. The title of the post should have already made that clear from the get-go. But in the event that it did not, it was worth explaining. With that, let's get into it.

Josh Donaldson has been one of the major bright spots on both sides of the field since being acquired by the Blue Jays in late 2014. He proved to be the standard when it came to playing with grit, intensity, and an overwhelming amount of passion for the game. Being one of two MVP's in Blue Jays history (the other being George Bell), he's become an undeniable fan favorite and a player that any team in the MLB would have been lucky to build around. Having a third baseman who can easily be penciled as an All-Star that provides outstanding defense and offense is something that the Blue Jays would be wise to hold on to for as long as they can.

But in the world of baseball, it's well-known that it does not operate in absolutes. In normal circumstances, it would seem obvious to some that a long-term extension for Josh Donaldson should have already been offered by the front office due to how rare of a talent he is and how such a player could help carry the Jays to the post-season on a yearly basis. It seems obvious simply because during his tenure with the Blue Jays, his numbers provide evidence for it. Numbers do not lie.

Yet, when it comes to players that we - specifically as Blue Jays fans - come to adore and cling on to, we don't want to acknowledge what history has taught us. We willingly put our blinders on because we hope a player like Donaldson can be the anomaly and the normal rules of aging and regression simply do not apply to him because... well, because he's Josh Donaldson! And he's a Blue Jay! But when it comes to those that have to make the tough decisions for the benefit of the team's long-term interests (i.e. the front office), the blinders have to removed in order to come to a sound and (close to) objective conclusion, depending on the direction they decide to take the ball club.

Let's look at the facts. Josh Donaldson is eligible for arbitration for just one more season; after which, he will become an unrestricted free agent. We assume - and rightfully so - that the Jays intend to hold on to him for the remainder of his contract, thereby paying him around $20 million for the 2018 season (I'm spit-balling). He is currently 31 years of age and is turning 32 at the end of this year. Assuming he stays with the Blue Jays for the 2018 season, he will be on the later side of age 32, or just turning 33 as an unrestricted free agent. The free agent class that he is part of is arguably the best free agent class that we have seen in a very long time - consisting of names like Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Bryce Harper, Carlos Carrasco, Clayton Kershaw, Dallas Keuchel, and Andrew Miller. 

Knowing what we know about the Blue Jays and their historical reluctance to exceed a 5-year deal (even though at his introductory presser, Mark Shapiro stated that he "doesn't like to operate in absolutes..."), as well as knowing that Donaldson will be in line for a big contract - perhaps his last and only chance at one - it's hard to see these two things meshing well. Of course, it's possible that the Jays offer Donaldson a 6 or 7 year lucrative contract and it's certainly possible that they may even be in the process of negotiating a deal with Donaldson before he becomes a UFA. But when we ignore our strong fandom that we have for the Jays and their players, we have to ask ourselves if this is good for the organization and its goal of being consistent contenders. I'm not sure that it is (notice I did not say that "It's not.").

2018 is going to be a year in which the Blue Jays are going to have to commit to a direction. Right now, it seems that they want to be competitive and push for a return to the post-season, while at the same time replenish and develop their minor league system to build a consistent competitor once the likes of Martin, Tulowitzki, Donaldson, and Bautista (if he's still a Blue Jay) pass the torch. For me, it seemed like this is what Atkins and Shapiro attempted to do this year and, as we have seen, it didn't generate the results we all would have liked to see. Sure, injuries played a role when it came to the woes the Jays experienced and it wouldn't make an awful lot of sense for the front office to push their chips in if they didn't have the healthy pieces that would play a critical role in competing for the post-season. But in order to acquire more pieces to replenish the farm system, it's reasonable to assume that it would mean the Jays would also have to give up something of value on their end. These valuable pieces that would theoretically be moved are also the same pieces that would help lead them towards the post-season. You see the conundrum here. You can't have it both ways. You can't fully commit to a post-season run and fully commit to replenishing the farm at the same time. Going half-in on one and half-in on the other won't lead to the results that are desired either - the "luke warm" approach, as I like to call it. You're either all-in on one, or all-in on the other. I can't think of a team where the luke warm approached has successfully worked.

Thus, it really all depends on the direction that the Jays decide to take. 2018 is going to be the year that this proverbial window of opportunity that has been referenced since '15 will probably close, so if the front office intends to fully commit for a post-season run they can't look to acquire pieces to replenish the farm via trade at the same time. Doing so, as mentioned, will require them to part with the necessary pieces to make that post-season push. If they don't decide to fully commit to a post-season run, and they prioritize acquiring young and controllable pieces to build this consistent contender that they aim (and have preached about) to build, then it would require them to move on from pieces that would enable them to make a run at the post-season. As it stands, the only player that would be attractive enough to allow the Jays to acquire such assets via trade is Josh Donaldson. This is the reality.

As much as we'd like to play Fantasy Baseball and car salesman, no team is knocking on the door for Troy Tulowitzki, Kendrys Morales, or even Russel Martin. Moreover, these pieces that can reasonably be considered declining assets (two of which I wouldn't bank on playing a full season) won't offer the Jays and their fans the desired return to help replenish the farm. The only chip that the Jays can use to acquire young controllable assets for the future is Josh Donaldson.

Right away, I'm sure you're reading the list of players on the Blue Jays roster in your head and you want to respond with - "That's not true! They could also move players like Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman! They'd land huge returns!" Sure.

While this is true, this wouldn't be aligned with the goal of building a consistent contender, as both of those players aren't going to cost the Jays a lot in terms of a contract once the two reach arbitration. Seeing as though both won't be UFA's until 2021, it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense for the Jays to move these pieces, given how long they are under contract and can help be a part of the "consistent contender" goal once the young group of now-prospects make their way up the the big leagues. Donaldson, on the other hand, is entering his last year of his contract with the Jays and the concept of the Blue Jays being outbid by a team that doesn't mind exceeding a 5-year contract once he reaches free agency isn't inconceivable to me. Actually, it's almost predictable given the team's history. Moreover, how certain are we really that Josh Donaldson can be this good in two or three or four or five or six or seven years time? Historically, long-term contracts given to players approaching their mid-30's haven't been favorable. I mean, ignore the laundry for a minute and really ask yourself - would you be comfortable paying Josh Donaldson anywhere between $20MM - $30MM a year when he's 35 or 36 or 37? It's not unreasonable or even irrational to assume that he won't be worth that much towards the later end of the deal. You can say that the solution is easy and Donladson can just become a DH when (assumingly) Vladimir Guerrero Jr. becomes the third baseman in 2019 (this is the popular timeline. It's by no means concrete), but you forget that the Jays will also still have Morales, Tulowitzki, and Martin on the team; which the last two probably won't be able to continue to play their current fielding position. Do we really want to pay at least two - and probably three (Donaldson, Tulowitzki, and Morales) - DH's that much money? At that point in 2019, the Jays will already commit a total of $52MM to Martin, Tulowitzki, and Morales, alone.

You could also argue that you could move Donaldson and/or Martin to first base, but this ignores the fact that the Jays could (and probably will, if he continues to play/hit the way he has this year) exercise the $6MM club option on Justin Smoak in 2019. Also, Rowdy Tellez may become a thing again. So when you look at the position the Jays will be in, it's really hard to find a sensible way for all of this to work. Again, this all assumes that 2019 plays out the way I have outlined, and that's totally fair. But personally, I'd rather allocate those dollars and use them on younger players that have more years of production than use it on signing Donaldson who may only have 2-3 years of this left. Other clubs may not see it this way and may even have the luxury of being able to afford that risk (not that Rogers can't afford it, but they aren't known for opening up the purse). Thus, as it stands, like it or not Donaldson is really the only conceivable and reasonable trade-chip that the Jays have that will allow them to acquire a return to build on.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed and the players that would theoretically be brought back via a trade for Donaldson may be complete and total duds (the Roy Halladay trade, anyone?). But a team takes that risk any time they acquire young talent; whether it be by trade or in the draft. Again, nothing is guaranteed, but it may be a risk worth taking if - and only if - the Jays' post-season aspirations for 2018 seem bleak.

But again, this all depends on which direction the Jays decide to go - either push for the post-season or replenish the farm. Don't get me wrong, it's not like the Jays need to make this decision right now. It's not inconceivable to me that they can have every intention of pushing for the post-season at this very moment and fully intend on going that route this off-season. I can see them waiting to see how the 2018 season plays out before making any rash decisions, and that would be smart. In fact, Mark Shapiro has already said that "it's almost a certainty" that Donaldson will be a Blue Jay next season. Yet, if next year the Jays are in the same position that they were at the trade deadline this year and the chances of making the post-season are reasonably low, coupled with having the general feeling that Donaldson is eager to see what he can get in the open market, it might be best for them to pull the trigger. The downfall of doing so, though, is that his trade valuable may not be as high as it is right now. That's not to say that they should do it right now, it's just the reality. Donaldson has been on an absolute tear over the past two months and it seems as though the injury to his calf earlier this season is more-or-less behind him, leaving other clubs to conclude that he's back to form. Yet, what the Jays would get in a trade that involved Donladson this off-season will not be what they would get should they decide to trade him next July. I think this is a risk worth taking, though.

As mentioned, injuries played a pretty decent sized part of the Jays disappointing 2017 season. Trading Donaldson now would mean that the front office doesn't have confidence that the bulk of the club has what it takes to reach the post-season and/or are able to stay healthy. Yet, seeing how aggressive they were in signing Marco Estrada to an extension, and given the reports that they aren't done looking to acquire starting pitching, it certainly seems as though the front office folk are serious in their attempts to do what is necessary to make it back to the post-season. It seems that they do, in fact, have confidence in this team - and they should! But it is also reasonable to suggest that if the front office views that it is unlikely that the Jays will reach their goal of playing baseball in October of 2018, Josh Donaldson is going to be a name to watch. 2018 will be a defining year for the Blue Jays. Either the core group (minus Bautista... probably) makes one last push for the post-season, or we'll be seeing a new crop of players that make up the Toronto Blue Jays. Whichever way the season unfolds, Josh Donaldson and his future as a Blue Jay will play a huge role.

Again, not saying that the Jays should trade Donaldson. I'm saying don't be shocked if (eventually) he is.


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


Blue Jays & Marco Estrada Agree To A Contract Extension

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Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


The Toronto Blue Jays have made their first move to secure their starting pitching staff by agreeing to a contract extension with Marco Estrada. To boot - 

Given how thin that depth was thin the depth was within the starting rotation, the Jays were wise to jump on this as quickly as possible. It's no secret that it's been historically difficult for the Blue Jays to be able to lure free agents to uproot across the border and play for them, as much of a non-issue as it may be in reality. So for the Jays to be able to begin the solidification process when it comes to the starting rotation now rather than wait and let the market come to them is a very good sign.

Further, to be able to bring back a player that not just claims but demonstrates that he would love to remain a Blue Jay and play and Toronto is a double bonus. Being familiar with what it's like to play for a city as passionate as Toronto is, and understanding the expectations and standards that we (often times irrationally) set up for those that play for the Jays, to have a player that wants to be a part of that is something that shouldn't be ignored. 

But intangibles aside, this is a solid signing for the Jays. With just a $13MM commitment is something that shouldn't result in a lot of complaining. Yes, it's true that Estrada was pretty bad over the course of the first half of the season. It reached a point where many Jays fans were clamoring to have him traded at the deadline along with Francisco Liriano at the deadline in order to replenish the farm system. During that time, Estrada started 18 games, recording a 8-10 record,  facing 441 batters, giving up 106 hits, 58 runs - all of which were earned, 39 walks, 17 home runs, 110 strikeouts, and holding an ERA of 5.17. Given how dissimilar these numbers were from what we were used to when it came to Estrada, if you told me then that he and the Jays would reach this agreement now, I would've thought it was a bad signing. But this is when we ignore what he's done during the second half of the season after the All-Star Break.

Since July 16 and up until this point, Estrada has looked more like his old self and seems much more in control than he previously did. To boot, since and including that date he's started 13 games, with a 7-6 record, facing 322 batters, giving up 68 hits, 37 runs, 37 runs - all of which were earned, 28 walks, 12 home runs, 60 strikeouts, and holding an ERA of 4.40. Considering how much of an improvement these numbers seem to illustrate, I can understand why the Jays would want to reach a deal with Estrada before he could be exposed to the open market this off-season.

The concerns are still there, though. Don't get me wrong, we still are justified in wondering whether or not history will repeat itself and Estrada becomes one of those "second-half pitchers" - something that the Jays can't afford to have if they legitimately plan on competing next season. Further, with Estrada's back issues being a historically lingering issue, it's fair to wonder if he'll be able to live up to the contract and consistently perform like we expect someone who makes #13MM to. 

Yet, even with that, it's definitely something that I can get behind. Moreover, I find the aggressiveness of the front office to be somewhat compelling and, hopefully, a sign of what to expect in the off-season (I know... I know... but let me dream). The lack of starting pitching depth was definitely a huge detriment for the Jays this season, as mentioned by Greg Wisniewski in the latest episode of the South of the 6ix Podcast, Hopefully this can be viewed as some sort of evidence that illustrates that Atkins & Shapiro will be much more aggressive in their pursuit of depth in the rotation to prevent the woes that were experienced this year.

Regardless, it's hard to hate this signing. I'm glad Marco Estrada is sticking around, at least for one more year.


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


SOT6 Podcast: Episode 19

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Talking all things Blue Jays in this one! 

  •  With the season winding down, there's a lot to ponder when we examine the 2017 season for the Toronto Blue Jays. Injuries, underperformance, and being behind the curb were all part of a recipe for failure when it came to their post season aspirations. Now that it's over, there are still some questions that need to be answered - Is this it for Jose Bautista? How does the club plan on competing for a post-season appearance in 2018? Will the Front Office push their chips in, start to sell off assets, or hold? These, as well as many other questions are on each and every Blue Jays fans' mind.
  • To help further analyze these questions, I am joined by Greg Wisniewski (@coolhead2010) of Baseball Prospectus Toronto (@BPToronto) and the Artificial Turf Wars Podcast (@TurfPod) and we talk about all of the aforementioned topics as well as others. A conversation you don't want to miss!
  • Music: Drake Stafford - "Casets" & Auxl Studio - "Blue Bloods"