You may remember when we previously played the Blue Jays, that Tom Dakers of Bluebird Banter and I exchanged questions and answers as a way to preview the series. We're back again with a fresh set of questions. Let's get to it!
Toronto had a pair of picks in the first round of the draft this year. How does Bluebird Banter feel about their selections, and who did you think Toronto would be going after? Personally, I like the risk taken on Jeff Hoffman.
I'm very happy with the draft. I love the pick of Hoffman. It seems like all our pitchers end up on Dr. Andrew's table, just as well to get it over with early. It seems like almost every pitcher comes back as good as he was before going under the knife. The bad part is that he'll be pushed back a year, but if he would have been a top three choice before the surgery, picking him 9th should be good.
And Max Pentecost looks like he can stick as a catcher, and looks like he'll hit well enough to make us forget about the promise J.P. Arencibia once had. I also think we did good by picking Sean Reid-Foley, a right-handed pitcher, with our second round pick. Most thought he would be a first rounder.
Before the draft, most experts figured the Jays would pick shortstop Trea Turner and RHP Touki Toussaint, nothing against either of those two, but I'm happier with who we actually picked.
So many batters are off to good starts this year. Can Toronto put together enough pitching to make things interesting in August and September?
You know, I think we do have enough pitching, not that I would be against picking someone up before the trade deadline. We are 5.5 up on second place Baltimore, and 6 games up on the Yankees, at the moment, and it isn't like either of those two teams are terribly deep in starting pitchers.
So far, we've used 6 different pitchers in the 4 and 5 spots of the rotations. Brandon Morrow was ineffective and then hurt. Dustin McGowan was inconsistent and now in the bullpen. Liam Hendriks made two of the luckiest starts I've ever seen. Now J.A. Happ and Marcus Stroman are holding down those two spots and, with any luck, should be able keep in the rotation until Alex Anthopoulos finds a trade he likes, or top prospect Aaron Sanchez is ready to take one of their spots.
Our team ERA was 4.64 in April, 3.74 in May and, so far in June, 2.71....I like that trend.
Jose Reyes hasn't really taken off quite yet. Is there another level for him yet, or are we seeing his true talent level at this point of his career?
Reyes has been much better the past month or so. He started the season with hamstring troubles, went on the DL and he really wasn't 100% when he came back to the team. Over his last 25 starts, he's hit .298/.360/.394 with 7 stolen bases. I'm hoping this is the Jose Reyes we'll see for the rest of the season. It's not a total coincidence that the team started winning when he started playing better.
Beyond setting the table for the big bats, he's a very happy, smiling, energetic guy. He seems to keep the his teammates loose and everyone in a good mood. That said, his range at short leaves a lot to be desired. But, if he continues to hit like he has of late, I'll put up with it.
Tell us about the pitchers the Twins will be facing in this series.
R.A. Dickey on Monday. Dickey has been, well, the polite way to say it is inconsistent. He had a pretty good May, going 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA, but he hasn't been able to put together a string of good starts. Part of it seems to be that manager John Gibbons leaves him in for 2 or 3 batters too many each start. Dickey will cruise through 5 innings and then the 6th he'll just lose it. Gibby seems tone deaf to tiny little signs that Dickey is tiring. They are subtle. Things like Dickey walking 3 guys in a row and balls rocketing off (and over) the outfield walls. Not everyone would notice those little things.
J.A. Happ has been much better this year. He's not one of my favorite pitchers, he tends to nibble at the corners (or generally nibble just off the corners) of the plate. Even on a good start he'll run up his pitch count quick, making a 5 inning start the norm. He's been a bit better this year, he seems to have picked up a couple of miles per hour on his fastball and he will, occasionally throw two or three pitches in a row that will find the strike zone. He is a surprising 5-2 with a 4.12 ERA as a starter, in 7 starts and has averaged 5.6 innings per start.
Marcus Stroman has had 2 great starts since his second call up this season. He was up earlier to help out in the bullpen, but was called up again, at the end of May, to join the rotation. In his two starts he's pitched 12 innings, allowed 2 runs, 12 hits, 2 walks with 13 strikeouts. His averaging 95mph on his fastball and mixes in a very nice slider and curve. If he's hitting his spots, he's very tough.
Be thankful you are missing Mark Buehrle.
Now that we're past the draft, the trade deadline is the next big hurdle in the season. Will the Jays be buyers or sellers? Could they take on salary down the stretch if they needed to?
GM Alex Anthopoulos tells us they could take on salary. I've stopped taking Alex at his word awhile ago. Apparently the players passed the hat around to raise money to try to sign Ervin Santana this spring. My feeling is that ownership allowed the team to raise payroll a ton last year, and the team tanked, so ownership wasn't all that inclined to give them a bunch more money this year, on the fool me once shame on you, fool me again, shame on me' philosophy.
With the team winning, and attendance looking better as the wins come, they might find some money.
Have you beaten the Yankees like I asked you to last time? Please say yes.
Ask me next week, we have a 3 game series against the Yankees in New York, starting next Monday. I'm going down for the games, I haven't seen new Yankee Stadium yet It will look that much better with a Blue Jays sweep. It's just our second series against the damn Yankees, we lost 2 of 3 in our home opening series against them. There isn't a team I enjoy beating more.