I never know if this falls under the category of “too soon” but the Toronto Star just published some of their favourite photos from The Star’s sports photographer, Steve Russell. Click on the link or the photo to see them all.
All of his photos are exceptional but I just love the look on the Kansas City Royals bullpen staff on this catch.
Spring Training is almost here with the catchers and pitchers about to report. Here is what the Blue Jays have going on in 2011.
There is a sense of renewal that is inherent to spring training, and that feeling will be particularly strong for the Toronto Blue Jays when pitchers and catchers hold their first official workout on Monday.
While general manager Alex Anthopoulos didn’t radically overhaul the roster, several significant changes were made in the off-season. The clubhouse will be a very different place minus departed veterans Vernon Wells ,Shaun Marcum and Scott Downs.
Add in that John Farrell is taking over as manager from the retired Cito Gaston after 2 1/2 years of stewardship from the franchise giant, and change will definitely be in the air in Dunedin, Fla.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports breaks down the Toronto Blue Jays chances in 2010.
Anthopoulos recognized quickly what Tampa Bay and Baltimore did a few seasons back: Competing in the AL East, particularly against New York and Boston, often takes an organizational retooling. He canâ€™t rid himself of Wells, so Anthopoulos took his most valuable chip â€“ one he was going to lose in six months anyway â€“ and cashed it.
Now comes the fun part: figuring out how to execute the plan that will oust the Yankees or Red Sox. Anthopoulos immediately invested money into scouting, an area somewhat abandoned under Ricciardiâ€™s watch and seen by Anthopoulos as cost beneficial. One thing of which Anthopoulos canâ€™t be accused: copycat management.
This doesnâ€™t make Toronto a threat this year. The Blue Jays rolled out a plethora of young pitchers last season, all of whom looked great at times and mediocre at others. Shaun Marcum is back from Tommy John surgery to anchor the staff, joined by left-handers Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil and Marc Rzepczynski â€“ pronounced Zep-CHIN-Skee, for those curious â€“ and their respectable strikeout rates.
Some pieces will click, some wonâ€™t. Thatâ€™s what happens when a team rebuilds. The Blue Jays are in the first phase, and itâ€™s going to feel awkward for a while, trusty, reliable No. 32 not coming out every fifth game, replaced by some kid on the mound. And donâ€™t forget the kid in the front office, either, the one whose wee trade gets bigger by the day.
So J.P. Ricciardi was fired in Toronto as the General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Ricciardi for those of you who have read Moneyball, was schooled in the ways of sabermetrics by Billy Beane and all Jays fans had hoped he would bring that wisdom to the Toronto Blue Jays. While the future started well, Ricciardi seemed to fall apart when Ted Rogers increased his budget and Ricciardi started to throw around money like it was going out of style. Ricciardi complained all of the time about the contract for Carlos Delgado and his $18 million a season and how it hurt the Jays going forward. But Delgado kept hitting 30 homers and driving in 100 runs. Of course Ricciardi made even a worse deal in signing Vernon Wells to a $105 million deal which will hurt the next guy even worse. I wonder if he would not have been better off sticking with the kind of ball he knew that worked in Oakland (of course it isnâ€™t working that well in Oakland lately either). Toronto was never going to outspend New York and Boston and it seemed to fall apart when they tried to go down that route (to be fair, I believe that Ricciardi wanted to let Vernon Wells go but Paul Godfrey wanted to keep him at an insane cost to the future of the Toronto Blue Jays.
In the end, Ricciardi didnâ€™t really improve the Toronto Blue Jays over what Gord Ash had done. When Ricciardi took over he was handed a team that was 22 games above .500 for the previous four seasons. J.P. will hand off a team that is 16 games above .500 for his final four years. Not only that but I find it an odd coincidence that stories about Cito Gaston started the day before Ricciardi was fired. Nothing like taking some shots while packing up your personal belongings.