Toronto Blue Jays: A Guide For The Part Time Fan Week 26

By Matt Antaya / @selfcynic

Following a week of awfulness, it’s left to the optimists and the lunatics to explain how the Jays could still make the playoffs.

The rest of Jays’ nation has turned their sights towards ‘next year’ – because let’s face it: this glass is not half full…it’s been empty for an hour and the bartender has turned the lights up.

It’s time to go home.

That said, the glimpse of the future has been reassuring. The many names that Jays’ forecasters have tossed around for years have finally arrived – Stroman, Sanchez, and Norris, among others. The Jays’ starting rotation should be something to envy for the next several years. And that’s something you can tell your cocky Yankees’ hat wearing buddy (why are you friends with him again?).

In fact, another thing you can tell him…his dumb team isn’t going to make the playoffs either. So, shut it.

And while we’re discussing the AL East, does it seem awkwardly poetic that the Orioles clinched the pennant on Tuesday by defeating the – wait for it – Blue Jays? As the Baltimore players stormed the field in celebration, the Jays players could only look on from the visitor’s dugout wondering where things went horribly wrong.

Another incident that transpired during their roadtrip to Baltimore resulted in a 6-game suspension for youngster Marcus Stroman. This is a case of both sides getting it wrong – Stroman for making a poor decision, and MLB for choosing to punish him well beyond the magnitude of the infraction.

The story begins with a controversial play at home plate involving Orioles’ catcher Caleb Joseph and Jose Reyes, who believed he was not given clear access. As a result, the next time Joseph came to bat, Stroman threw his first pitch high and inside nearly striking the batter in the head. The umpire issued a warning to Stroman, as well as warning to both dugouts and play resumed. At the end of the inning, Baltimore manager Buck Showalter had some choice words for Stroman, to which the young pitcher responded colourfully. Most believed the story would end there. But several days later, MLB announced it was suspending Stroman for 6 games for his irresponsible actions. We acknowledge Stroman made a bad choice, but a 6-game suspension seems rather excessive.

The Jays are in New York facing the Yankees this weekend before returning to Toronto on Monday to face the Seattle Mariners. Though not mathematically eliminated just yet, the Jays have a just-slightly better chance of making the playoffs as they do of wining this year’s Super Bowl. We’ll still stumble down to the Dome next week to catch the remaining games because hey, it’s baseball, and it won’t be back in Toronto until the spring.

Insider Stuff
It would appear the Jays are interested in re-signing outfielder Melky Cabrera (we’re just going to leave this here).

We’ve been screaming for this all year. And inside sources have finally let slip that General Manager Alex Anthopoulos intends to issue a qualifying offer this fall, as the 30-year old switch hitter enters free agency. Further, the team hopes this initial offer can lead to a multi-year extension.

For his part, Cabrera has told reporters that he loves the city of Toronto, his teammates, and playing for the Jays. He also recognizes that “this was the club that gave me the opportunity after I got in trouble [with a 50-game PED suspension while with the San Francisco Giants] a few years ago and I want to stay.”

Buzzword of the Week: Qualifying Offer
The ‘qualifying offer’ was introduced in the 2012 season, in hopes it might motivate free agent players to re-sign with their current teams. Retaining core players can be good for a team, good for the players’ careers, and good for the fans that have grown to see these players as ‘their own’.

The value of the qualifying offer is set each season by taking the average of the 125 richest contracts in baseball. For the 2015 season, this amount will be roughly $15M. When a player is due to become a free agent, meaning his contract is up, his current team may offer him a one-year extension for the qualifying offer amount. The team must make the offer within five days of the end of the World Series, and the player has the following seven days to accept or reject the offer.

In the event a player rejects the qualifying offer, he’s then free to negotiate a contract with any of the 30 Major League teams. His previous team will receive an extra draft pick as compensation for having lost the player. In addition, the team that signs the player will forfeit their first-round draft pick as the cost of having, essentially, stolen the player.

An elite player who enters free agency is often looking for a multiple year contract, not a one-year extension. As a result, he will often reject the qualifying offer and seek a better offer over the winter. However, other teams may be deterred by the loss of their first-round draft pick when considering whether to sign the player – as Stephen Drew discovered this past season when he turned down Boston’s qualifying offer. In the end, Drew went unsigned, as no team was willing to part with their first-round draft pick. He sat out half the 2014 season before finally signing a contract for the remainder of the year with – wait for it again – Boston. He was reportedly paid a fraction of what he was initially offered.

So what have you learned?
The Jays don’t look so hot once the ugly lights go on, but they promise next year will be better.

The kids are alright, assuming they keep their cool – Stroman, we’re looking at you.

The Jays hope to keep Melky in Toronto, but the qualifying offer ensures they’ll get a draft pick if he chooses to leave. And we recommend you catch a couple games before it’s all over – it’ll give the looming winter less ‘suck’ factor.

Careful not to dig in against this guy and we’ll fire back next Friday, high and inside, at the best damn (and only) ball club north of the border.



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