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"

Lend Me Your Ears: Talking Jays on the Jays Journal Round Table Podcast

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On Thursday evening, I had the pleasure to participate in an intriguing Round Table discussion about the Blue Jays on the Jays Journal Podcast. Hosted by Ari Shapiro, both the Tao of Stieb and Diamyn Hall joined me to discuss how we should look back at the 2017 season, what we should expect for 2018, potential targets for free agency, and our individual thoughts on how we ought to examine the Jays and their postseason opportunities (or lack thereof). 

Give it a listen. Also, feel free to share it with your fellow Blue Jays fans. I also encourage you to follow both Ari, the Tao of Stieb, and Diamyn if you haven't already. All three provide excellent and thought provoking baseball content and they deserve your attention.

Thanks for listening!



::Side Note: I'll be away on vacation for the next 10 days enjoying what is left of the summer. Don't worry about the lack of posting on social media on my behalf as I'm just taking the time to recharge the batteries. Thanks!::

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

The Weekend Hangover - Episode 8

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Ryan of JaysDroppings.com and I join up again to talk all the latest happenings regarding the Toronto Blue Jays. Even though the Jays season is in limbo, there's still plenty to talk about and we make sure to touch on all of it. The main topics of conversation are:

  • Josh Donaldson being a total boss!
  • Being only 3 games back from the Wild Card. Is it possible?
  • Marco Estrada being claimed on revocable waivers.
  • Who we'd like back next season.
  • And more!

Don't forget to share this with all your fellow Blue Jays fans, as Ryan and I will be doing this (and have been doing this) on a weekly basis!

Thanks for listening!

SOT6 Podcast: Episode 18


Episode 18 of the South of the 6ix Podcast!

Talking all things Blue Jays in this one! 

* I am joined by Diamyn Hall (@DiamynHall) of Wright State University in Dayton, OH to discuss the mental aspect of the game. Specifically, we dive deep into the issues surrounding Roberto Osuna, Marcus Stroman, and the mental aspect may have influenced Troy Tulowitzki's offensive performance prior to his injury.