Monday, September 3, 2018

ten weekly random thoughts: week 22 August 27-September 2

We have reached the final month of the 2018 MLB Season. The Blue Jays are almost certainly going to finish 4th in the AL East as they are currently 10 games back of 3rd place TB Rays and 21.5 games ahead of the basement-dwelling Baltimore Orioles. Looking ahead at the schedule, the Blue Jays have a somewhat meaningful 4 game series coming up against the Cleveland Indians with Josh Donaldson returning to Toronto as a Cleveland Indian. Whether he plays is very much up in the air as he has only played a couple of rehab games this week. Edwin Encarnacion and Melky Cabrera also return to Toronto.  The Blue Jays could have an impact on the playoff races. They face Boston and NY three more times each and the Houston Astros visit Toronto September 24-26. It will be really interesting to see what kind of reception Josh Donaldson and Roberto Osuna receive when they return to Toronto. I suspect you will definitely hear boos from the crowd and Donaldson's reception might be warmer than what Osuna experiences. Here are ten random thoughts from week 10 of the MLB.

1. First, the big news of the week. Josh Donaldson joins former Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion and Melky Cabrera in Cleveland as the former MVP was traded prior to Friday's midnight EDT deadline to enable him to be eligible to play in the 2018 playoffs. Donaldson has not played since May 28th with a calf injury. He was initially expected to miss just a few days, but word came from Donaldson that he completely tore the calf muscle while rehabbing in Dunedin as well as injuring a muscle outside the calf. This season has truly been a disaster for Donaldson. He came into camp, after not following the team training program and going off on his own to train with a dead shoulder. Opening day he was unable to complete a throw to first base without bouncing it. He remained in the lineup and DH'd with regular days off. He went on the DL for the shoulder April 11, missed a month and came back for a month before coming up lame running to third base in Boston. There are several questions one must ask. First, why was Donaldson allowed to do his own training program in the first place? That should have been a breach of contract right there. Second, Why was he not removed from playing sooner and shut down? At some point, management/training staff have to take some responsibility and tell the player they are not playing. As much as I am sad to see the last major player from the 2015 playoff run leave Toronto, I think it was the right move trading Dosh when they did. Donaldson is a free agent in the off-season and the best the Blue Jays could have done was QO him and likely have JD reject said QO and potentially sign elsewhere for nothing. Besides, the Blue Jays have top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. waiting in the wings. If the team feels he's not ready, they can always sign a stop gap option for 1 year and trade them at the deadline.

2. The other trade the Blue Jays made was sending Curtis Granderson to the Milwaukee Brewers for prospect and Nigerian-born, Canadian-raised Demi Orimoloye. Granderson was a real class act to the Blue Jays organization, extending his own charity Grandy's kids to Canada. He was also terrific as a role model and mentor for the Blue Jays younger players, such as outfielder Teoscar Hernandez. It is not out of the question that the Blue Jays try to sign Granderson again in the off-season. Granderson made his first appearance for the Brewers on Saturday, drawing a walk pinch-hitting in the 8th.

3. In injury news, the Blue Jays could be getting Marcus Stroman back for Monday's game against Tampa Bay. Stroman has been out since August 19 with a deep blister. Blue Jays personnel must be crossing their fingers and toes with Stroman after the 2017 campaign Aaron Sanchez endured. I do think Stroman should get a few more starts this month, provided he's healthy so he can go into the off-season feeling good about his game. Stroman is 4-8 with a 5.27ERA in 18 starts this season.

4. Sam Gaviglio is getting a few extra days to rest after he was hit in the forearm his last start. Sammy G has been consistently inconsistent this season. He's pitched into the 7th and 8th innings on a few occasions and he couldn't make it through the second inning against Boston May 13. Another reason to skip him or push him back could be his splits. Gavoglio has been a much better pitcher at home than away (2-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 9 starts, 11 appearances at home; 1-6 with an 8.10 ERA on the road in 11 starts). In his place will be rookie Sean Reid-Foley.

5. A pair of Blue Jays made their MLB debuts Saturday. September call-ups Taylor Guerrieri and Jose Fernandez combined to pitch the final three innings of Saturday's loss to the Marlins. Guerrieri pitched the 6th and 7th innings, allowing 1 hit. Guerrieri has a really funky delivery that will certainly throw off hitters at first. He must be careful though because he almost pauses in his delivery and if a runner's on base he could be called for a balk. I suspect he'll also allow plenty of stolen bases in his career as well as he is quite slow to the plate. Overall, Guerrieri's debut was a success. Fernandez pitched the 8th inning of Saturday's loss. He looked good in retiring the three batters he faced with only 10 pitches. I see him as a lefty specialist who maybe pitches an inning max.

6. Here are 9 reasons to keep watching the MLB in September. I think the NL West race will be won by the Dodgers. They have a strong rotation and bullpen and trade acquisition Manny Machado will push them over the edge. Things are getting really interesting in the AL West. Seattle is starting to find its form, the LA Angels are giving the Astros everything they can handle this weekend and the A's are showing signs of cracking. Houston might come to regret trading for Roberto Osuna because something is not right in the Astros clubhouse at a time when the team needs to gel and come together. The team is struggling and Osuna has not handled the pressure well at all. Seattle would be best advised to contact some of the players from that magical 1995 team for advice on how to repeat the feat because they need to win, win and win some more. After Saturday's game, they are 4.5 back of Oakland for the second wild card spot. The LA Angels will have a massive role in deciding who wins the AL West and who is second and in the wild card game. After Sunday they play the Mariners 4 more times, the Astros three more times and the A's 6 more times, including 3 to end the season. I'm kind of rooting for Philadelphia to win the NL East because they have Canadian Nick Pivetta in their starting rotation. The Cubs are going to hold off the Brewers and Cardinals for the NL Central title and the wild card game will be between the NL East second place team and the NL Central second place team (which I think will be St. Louis because Brewers GM David Stearns made too many odd moves). Matt Carpenter and Mookie Betts will be the MVP's of their respective leagues.JD Martinez will not win the triple crown, his teammate Betts is too far ahead with batting average. Jose Ramirez will lead the league in HR and stolen bases. Edwin Diaz will get enough opportunities to break the saves record but he may not convert all the opportunities. How in the world did no team trade for Jacob DeGrom, the best pitcher in either league... by far? What a quirky stat that Adrian Beltre has one steal in every season since 2011. Is it a lack of attempts to steal or has he had really bad luck in stealing bases? Sorry but the Red Sox-Yankees games remaining will have zero relevance on playoffs. The Yankees are too far back to catch Boston for the AL East title. These two juggernauts could very well meet in the Divisional round of the playoffs though and those will be very meaningful games.

7. Gio Gonzalez didn't have far to go to join his new team after the Washington Nationals traded the big southpaw to the Milwaukee Brewers, their opponents this weekend. Here are some other trades where players literally switched clubhouses.

8. Jose Bautista is now playing for his third team after the NY Mets traded him to the Philadephia Phillies. Joey Bats initially played for the Braves for a couple of weeks, batting .143 with a pair of HR in 12 games. The Mets then signed him and he appeared in 83 games, batting .204 with 9HR and 37 RBI. So far with the Philles he has 1 hit in 4AB and has drawn 2 walks. This is likely to be the final season for Bautista, who is turning 38 in 6 weeks.

9. We'll end things off this week with a wish for September for every team. I would like to add a wish for the Blue Jays. I wish that the call-ups show promise this month to give the fans some hope for the future.

10. Blue Jay of the week: Sean Reid-Foley. The rookie right-hander had his best start of his young career Sunday, going 7 strong innings. He even got his first career win. Reid-Foley looked much calmer and in control than his first two career starts where the jitters got to him. He should be in the mix next season to challenge for a rotation spot.

Follow me on twitter @tpoole00 and check out my other blog @