The trade deadline was yesterday at 4pm.
Several all-star calibre players changed teams prior to the clock counting down. And there were heavy expectations that the Jays would make some headline trades to reinforce their chances of making the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
But when the dust finally settled, the Jays… did nothing.
Nada. Zero. Zilch.
If you listen carefully, you can hear the collective grown of this Toronto fan base. There may even have been some frustrated comments by the players themselves – which is a bit of a baseball faux pas.
But before you join in the mourning, we’ll explain why panic is not the answer.
Perhaps we’ll even convince you how the Jays made the right decision by staying the course. (And in fairness, the Jays did acquire infielder Danny Valencia earlier in the week from Kansas City. Not exactly a headline name, but he’s a smart and talented addition to the club).
Everything comes at a cost and Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos is not one to embark on senseless spending sprees. Furthermore, seller teams are rarely interested in money alone – they want your prospects; your future stars. And while there were several names floated that could help make the Jays better right now, their price tags could not be justified. Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez… both. Anthopoulos knows that selling the future for the present is a shortsighted move.
What’s easy to overlook is the Jays have been playing well amidst a wave of injuries. If the Jays can continue to tread water, then reinforcements ARE eventually on their way. When regulars Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, and Brett Lawrie finally return to action, they’ll make for a bigger impact than any deadline trade could have produced. (And, hey, the team has won 11 of 14 since the All-Star break.)
After a sweep of the Boston Red Sox, the Jays continued their push forward Thursday night, winning the first of four games against Houston. Fuelled by surprise hero Nolan Reimold, who hit two home runs in the game, the Jays tightened their hold on second place in the AL East. They now sit 1.5 games back of Baltimore.
The Jays play Houston through Sunday, then return home to face the Orioles beginning on Tuesday. The three game series against Baltimore is significant if our boys want to close the gap between themselves and the division leader.
In case you missed the headlines, we thought we’d give you a quick glimpse at Thursday’s biggest trades. The most significant trade saw Boston send pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes to Oakland in return for All-Star Home Run Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes. This trade seems to work for both sides.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers acquired former Cy Young Award winner David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-way deal that sent Austin Jackson to Seattle, with Nick Franklin and Drew Smyly headed to Tampa Bay.
Other noteworthy moves include shortstop Stephen Drew to the New York Yankees, pitchers John Lackey and Justin Masterson to the Cardinals, and infielder Asdrubal Cabrera to the Nationals.
These will be the names discussed around the water-coolers this week, so be sure to participate in the various “what if” conversations.
Buzzword of the Week: Pitch To Contact
Pitching is both an art and a science. And though the different types of pitchers are numerous, you can generally lump them into two major categories: Those who aim for strikeouts and those who ‘pitch to contact’.
Unlike a strikeout pitcher who prefers to keep the ball away from the batter and hopes for swing-and-miss style strikeouts, a contact pitcher actually wants the batter to connect. Typically, a contact pitcher doesn’t possess the dominating fastball or breaking ball that a strikeout pitcher employs. So their strategy is to let the batter hit the ball and rely on the defense to make the play. Throwing a healthy mix of cut-fastballs, breaking balls and changeups, they hope to induce routine groundballs or fly balls that the defense can easily turn into outs. This strategy often results in quicker innings and lower pitch counts. Unlike the strikeout pitcher who may require as many as 8 to 10 pitches per batter, if a contact pitcher can induce a groundball on the first pitch of every at-bat, they will last longer and go deeper into games.
The best pitchers are able to use both approaches. They have studied their opponents and they know when they can afford contact and when they must bear down and work towards a strikeout.
So what have you learned?
The Jays didn’t make any banner trades at the deadline, and while this frustrates some, it also means they didn’t give away the farm. Perhaps better than a trade, the Jays look forward to the boost they’ll receive when their regulars soon return from injury. Meanwhile, several big names around the league did change uniforms on Thursday – including top pitchers Jon Lester and David Price. Choosing to stay the course, the Jays are currently 1.5 games back of Baltimore, who visit Toronto later this week.
And remember, there’s no need to strike everyone out. Let them put some balls in play and the defense will sort it out. We suggest you attack the strike zone and we’ll regroup next Friday with a couple of quick outs on the best damn (and only) ball club north of the border.