The Changeup is a (hopefully) weekly collection of my thoughts about the stuff I read and maybe enjoyed in the world of baseball.
Hot Stove Info from Toronto Blue Jays
Let's first go over what the Jays are currently doing:
The only thing Jays/moves related that made the news this week was this:
So, basically what a lot of people have been saying all offseason but now it's news.
I missed this earlier because I try to pretend that Jon Morosi doesn't exist, but I'll indulge him here: Nope.
The 2016 attendance was built on the fun of the second half of 2015 and the 2017 attendance was built on making the ALCS two years in a row. At this point (and possibly this is just the nature of Toronto baseball fans), they sell tickets based on how the team is doing and how the team appears it will do. They can't trade Donaldson now AND try to convince fans that they are going to compete in 2018. The plausibility of success and residual hype is what sells baseball tickets in Toronto.
Here is a take:
Because no move in December 2017 perfectly predicts the future. Because one can always predict the coming baseball season in January with complete and total accuracy. Because there are no trade deadline moves mid-season. Because the Orioles and Blue Jays are the same organization. Because a Yankee fan has a complete and unbiased view of other teams in the AL East.
To be fair to the Blue Jays, the "Hot Stove" has been anything but hot since the start of December. It's gotten to the the point that various official Twitter accounts are pulling this:
Which is dumb, but also produced some nuggets. Like this:
Shimmies and Arm Slots
Watching this kid from behind the plate late last season was a treat. Stroman has got a lot of life on his pitches. There was a distinct sound when they hit the glove.
My dad once told me about the trick some catchers used to do when it came to sound: a catcher's mitt is quite pillow-y, especially old fashioned ones. Catchers used to slide sheets of tin foil behind the palm of their gloves. The pitch hitting the leather-covered tin foil when it arrived in the glove would make a much louder clapping sound, which in turn would play with the batter's perception of how hard the pitches were.
While I'm not going to say Russell Martin is stuffing tin foil in his glove (is that even legal?), but I love those stories that lend to the quirkiness of baseball.
Because it's cold outside and there are palm trees in this, here is Russell Martin showing us how to put on gear in 2015.
Winterfest Invites Baby Blue Jays
This was the big announcement from the Mothership* this week. 15 of the club's swooniest prospects will be making the trip North to kiss babies and press the flesh with the rabble.
I don't know what kind of access I will have as I don't have autograph tickets.
Some of them (including Vlad Jr. and Bichette) will be in Buffalo earlier in the week for a Bisons event. A few people suggested I go to Buffalo.
Going to Buffalo in mid-January is my idea of hell.
*Calling the official team "the Mothership" is something I stole full stop from @captainlatte. Follow her. She's great.
Keri Meets Kendrick to talk Negro Leagues
Jonah Keri, in addition to being a swell guy, has a great podcast. In the latest episode, Keri talks to Bob Kendrick, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president.
Thinking about the loss of Peanut Johnson a few weeks back, how she was the last woman who played in the Negro Leagues, it made me think about the march of time. We are losing the first hand witnesses to this vital part of baseball history and it's people like Bob Kendrick that are going to keep the spark alive.
Listen here: Kendrick has a great speaking voice. What a delightful man.
Keri's podcast has had a few different homes but he's managed to hold on (hold on! hold on!) to his fantastic theme song.
Stoeten Provides Hope
Stoeten rightly points out that the miserable 2017 season was mostly miserable because of the injuries. If a bunch of those guys come back, things are a hell of a lot more exciting.
He also extols the virtues of one I see as a dark horse to make a big impact, Anthony Alford.
At this point, I'm not even looking to Alford to bump Pillar out of CF. He needs to be a solid, promising option in LF (a position that seems to be annual problem for the Blue Jays) and show signs of raking like he did in Mexico this past fall, I'm satisfied.
This kid should get a look in the spring.
Scott Rolen Kicks Ass.
Scott Rolen is one of my favourite Blue Jays ever. He kicked quite a lot of ass. And because this was the way of things until very recently, Rolen was a multi-sport athlete in high school.
Here are highlights from the 1993 playoff game where Rolen dropped 47 points:
Including this anecdote:
That sounds like Rolen.