Toronto sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are both hitting the open market, putting the Blue Jays is a difficult spot.
As the season ended in Toronto last week, Blue Jays fans weren’t simply saying au revoir to the team’s hopes of hoisting the trophy in 2016, they were also possibly seeing team pillars Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista in Blue Jays uniforms for the last time.
Bautista and Encarnacion are, unfortunately for Toronto, hitting the free agent market at the same time, and doing so during an offseason in which the big-bat market is quite thin. The slugger supply does not meet the slugger demand, although it rarely does.
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As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.
With our dear Editor-in-Chief leaving Baseball Prospectus for his next chapter, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite chapters of his career here. There's an incredible number of timeless Sam Miller articles to choose from, but we whittled it down enough to not break the internet. This article originally ran on May 16, 2016.
All the same greats, the same mistakes. It doesn't have to be like this.
Jose Bautista’s overnight transformation from fifth outfielder to superstar stemmed from a small timing change, a modest tweak that jumpstarted his career and put a face on the potential of making an adjustment. For better or worse, his wild and unexpected success has inspired fans around the league to hope that their flawed but talented slugger is just one mechanical tweak from pulling a Bautista. Quick-fixes are rare, however. Even when a slumping hitter has unusual mechanics — a hitch, an awkward stance, etc. — the irregularity isn’t necessarily related to the player’s struggles, and might actually function as a vital part of what made him so successful in the past.
How the Manny Machado incident(s) occurred, Jose Bautista's big night, the Tigers' bullpen problems, and more, plus what to watch today.
The Weekend Takeaway
By the bottom of the eighth inning of Sunday’s series finale, the Athletics and Orioles had seen just about enough of each other. With the A’s up 10-0 in the rubber match at Camden Yards, Fernando Abad threw at Manny Machado twice, and the second straight tight one led Machado to chuck his bat toward third baseman Alberto Callaspo:
Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion supply big-time power, but what else is there for fantasy owners to see north of the border?
The Blue Jays were crowned by many as the 2012-2013 offseason champions after emptying their farm system and adding four All-Star-caliber players to their roster last winter. As so often happens, the team that “won the offseason” underwhelmed during the regular season, and Toronto finished in last place in the AL East, winning just 74 games.
Injures—especially to the pitching staff—were partially to blame for Toronto’s collapse, with disappointing performances by some stars and young players contributing as well. But despite the bad taste that the 2013 Jays may have left in the collective mouths of fantasy players, there’s still plenty of talent in this organization, and that’s particularly true when it comes to hitting.
In the wake of the Dodgers' recent record spending, we might ask why Luis Cruz is still around.
Over the past year the Dodgers have become baseball's most eager spender, absorbing and offering rich contracts. While the Yankees are tightening their belt buckle to get around the luxury tax, the Dodgers are making pithy comments, such as "What budget?" Yet one anachronism remains in LA during these lavish times. Luis Cruz, earner of the big-league minimum, sticks out like a sore thumb in a lineup featuring three players earning $20 million, two more earning $10 million, and two others making more than $2 million. Cruz is the lone non-millionaire, and, it just so happens, the team's weakest link.
Prior to last season Cruz's big-league experience entailed 169 plate appearances with a sub-.190 True Average. With his reputation as an all-glove, no-hit infielder intact he bounced around the minors. Cruz even spent part of his 2011 season playing in Mexico, alongside the likes of Jose Castillo, Geronimo Gil, and Luis Terrero. Last July, minutes before the Dodgers promoted him to the majors, he decided to embark on a career in Japan. Even circumstances surrounding the promotion were less Disney and more pragmatic: the Dodgers needed an extra body to survive a rough patch of injuries, and Cruz embodies the idea of an extra body. But the now-29-year-old provided spark and finished the season with a .272 TAv—a mark that placed him 18th among third basemen with at least 250 plate appearances.
The Blue Jays have turned over much of their team this winter, but they're still depending on a bounceback season by Jose Bautista. Will they get it?
Over the past few weeks, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has orchestrated an organizational overhaul of Pygmalion proportions. Essentially, he’s turned a perennial non-threat in the American League East into the division’s foremost...uh, well the baseball equivalent of Audrey Hepburn. You know, she played Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.