2015-02-25

And They're Off



This challenge has become a labour of love over time. It is rather time-consuming, yet it offers many rewards. At the forefront is that this contest gives us all some interesting insight into what the team's hardcore fan is thinking or feeling as spring training opens. It also gives us all a reason to watch those position battles in camp just a little closer than usual.

Some years the ballots we receive are quite predictable, which makes writing this post rather simple. This is not one of those years. What we like to do is point out a few interesting facts about the challenge itself and then end with the ballots. Apologies in advance for the length of this post, there really isn't a good way to roll this out.

This year, 24 competitors answered the call to the 6th annual 25-Man Roster Challenge. All 24 selected the following 14 names on their respective ballots:

Jose Bautista
Mark Buerhle
Brett Cecil
R.A. Dickey
Josh Donaldson
Edwin Encarnacion
Drew Hutchison
Maicer Izturis
Aaron Loup
Russell Martin
Jose Reyes
Aaron Sanchez
Michael Saunders
Marcus Stroman

A fine group indeed. If anyone from this list, for whatever reason, doesn't make the Opening Day roster for your Toronto Blue Jays, all bets are off. A ballot that may look silly or far-fetched now could end up being the winner if one or more of these 14 players doesn't come north with the team.

The following names were found on 23 of the 24 ballots:

Marco Estrada
Kevin Pillar
Dalton Pompey
Todd Redmond
Justin Smoak

Upon first glance, it is possible that all these players, save maybe Estrada, do not make the roster. Perhaps the owner of the ballot that didn't select them thought injury was a risk. Maybe, in the case of Pillar, the thinking is a non-roster, veteran type guy is more well-suited for the fourth OF roll. With respect to Pompey, he might not be ready to just be handed the keys to the everyday CF job. Redmond has proven to be a decent bullpen arm in the past, but there are other players in camp with better stuff, and he might slip through waivers at the end of the spring. Smoak isn't a lock to make the club by any stretch. It is also possible that they were just oversights--caught up in the numbers game, so to speak.

The following names were only present on a single ballot:

Scott Barnes
Ezequiel Carrera
Chris Dickerson
Liam Hendriks
Rafael Soriano
Ryan Tepera
Devon Travis
Matt West

These players just have to be considered a lottery ticket. A long shot, no doubt, to make the big club. Sometimes in life you have to take chances in order to receive glory. On the ballots we will put these players names in bold so that they stick out like the sore thumb they rightfully are.

We do have to mention that nobody took this guy, and it makes us kinda sad.


But we guess there are a whole bunch of pretty good reasons for that.



Fast facts!
  • Three ballots went with the unorthodox three-catcher system;
  • The battle for back-up infielder appears to be Ryan Goins, 13 votes vs Steve Tolleson, 10 votes;
  • Daniel Norris and his surgically repaired pitching elbow got 17 votes;
  • Dioner "trade me the fuck outta here any time now" Navarro got 21 votes; and
  • Only two ballots picked the same 25 players, which is kinda awesome if you think about it.
On with the ballots already. Since they all contained the same 14 names mentioned above, we will just show you the team name, tiebreaker (which was the predicted spring training record for the Blue Jays) and the other 11 players needed to round out the 25-man roster limit. 

Jays Are My 2nd Favourite Team
19-13
Steve Delabar
Estrada
Goins
Chad Jenkins
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Josh Thole
Danny Valencia

Human Rain Delay
16-15
Delabar
Estrada
Jenkins
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Tolleson
Valencia

Jimmy Triggs
16-16
Kyle Drabek
Estrada
Goins
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Barnes
Smoak
Valencia

The Roster Monster (pronounced Rast-uh Monst-uh)
19-13
Delabar
Drabek
Estrada
Navarro
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Soriano
Thole
Valencia

Norris' Buehrle Beard
16-14-2
Estrada
Jenkins
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Rob Rasmussen
Redmond
Smoak
Tolleson
Valencia

Team Last Row 500's
14-18
Delabar
Drabek
Estrada
Jenkins
Navarro
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Thole
Tolleson

Just Say No To Thole
18-13
Estrada
Jenkins
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Tepera
Tolleson
Valencia

I Like Nuts
21-10
Delabar
Drabek
Estrada
Goins
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Valencia

@scottwspicer
13-16
Drabek
Estrada
Goins
Jenkins
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Tolleson
Valencia

Hall Of Famers
18-14
Delabar
Estrada
Goins
Jenkins
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Thole
Valencia

Like A Candle Without Lind
16-15
Carrerra
Delabar
Drabek
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Rasmussen
Redmond
Smoak
Travis
Valencia

Brendan Kennedy's Conservative Effort
14-16
Delabar
Drabek
Estrada
Goins
Jenkins
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Smoak
Valencia

Self Cynic
16-13-1
Delabar
Estrada
Goins
Jenkins
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Valencia

@gideonturk
20-12
Drabek
Estrada
Goins
Jenkins
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Valencia

That's One Shitty Pen
16-13
Delabar
Estrada
Goins
Jenkins
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Valencia

Ant's All Stars
11-20
Delabar
Drabek
Estrada
Goins
Jenkins
Navarro
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Valencia

ElFuerte ChickenWings
20-12
Dickerson
Drabek
Estrada
Jenkins
Navarro
Norris
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Tolleson
Valencia

By Norris' Beard
18-14
Delabar
Estrada
Goins
Jenkins
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Valencia

The Orlando Merceds
16-16
Delabar
Estrada
Jenkins
Navarro
Pillar
Pompey
Rasmussen
Redmond
Smoak
Tolleson
Valencia

Do I Get Extra Points For Submitting A Month Early?
No tiebreaker
Drabek
Estrada
Goins
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Valencia
West

Team @1BJW
16-14-1
Delabar
Drabek
Estrada
Jenkins
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Thole
Tolleson
Valencia

Dead Money
20-12
Delabar
Estrada
Goins
Hendriks
Navarro
Norris
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Tolleson

Stro Knows Best
12-20
Delabar
Drabek
Estrada
Jenkins
Navarro
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Thole
Valencia

Team Reimer
Tiebreaker: Joba Chamberlain
Delabar
Drabek
Estrada
Jenkins
Navarro
Pillar
Pompey
Redmond
Smoak
Thole
Valencia

The last two ballots are the only identical ones in this year's roster challenge. You just have to think the edge goes to Stro Knows Best in the tiebreaker department.

And with that we are a go for launch. Thank you to all that decided to join us this year and good luck!

2015-02-16

Get Your Ballot In!



Consider this a friendly reminder that the cut-off date for the much anticipated 25 Man Roster Challenge is bearing down on us like Brett Lawrie is to the 15-day DL. Too soon?

For all you visual learners out there, we have included a fancy countdown clock that should serve you well if you want to join in on the fun.

The rules are relatively straightforward: Pick the opening day 25 man roster for your beloved Toronto Blue Jays.

That is all.

Easy enough, right? Consider this: In the five years that we have been running this bad boy, nobody has ever gone 25 for 25. Hence, we ask that you include a tiebreaker, which needs to be random and silly, so we decided on going full ridiculous: Guess the spring training record for the team. Seems as though the boys of summer will “attempt” to play 32 games that don’t mean anything to warm up for the 162 games that do mean something.

So if you do decide to play, your ballot should include:

25 player names
Tiebreaker
Team name

For a look at the free prizes you can win and some basic strategy, click here.

We know most of you are holding out some faint hope that AA will get some help down in the bullpen because, you know, he said that was priority number one this offseason. What he meant to say was, "We need an upgrade at catcher and third base!"

At least this year everyone in management is in full-on SAVE MY FUCKING JOB MODE so there might not be any room on the opening day roster for the Jo-Jo Reyes’ of the world.

Still, an intriguing spring training camp awaits! Many questions about second base (this is not a recording), bench players, C/DH/1B and the bullpen. Should make for some interesting ballots.

If you do choose to play, there are three ways to get your ballot in:

1: Send us an email: 1bluejaysway(at)gmail.com
2: Make a post on your blog, if you have one and send us a link
3: Add your ballot to the comments section of this post

2015-01-26

The 25 Man Roster Challenge Is Back Once Again!




It's just about that time of year when we all start to think about what the Opening Day lineup for your Toronto Blue Jays will look like. Well, it should be that time of year. No matter. The 6th (!) annual 25 Man Roster Challenge is a go once again. It's ridiculously easy to play and you can win cool Blue Jays stuff.

If you do decide to play, you have 3 options on how to get your ballot in: 

1: Send us an email: 1bluejaysway(at)gmail.com
2: Make a post on your blog, if you have one and send us a link
3: Add your ballot to the comments section of this post or the reminder post(s) we will do

All ballots should have a team name and a tiebreaker. 

In the event of a tie, and it's pretty much a given at this point there will be a tie, we ask that you also give us a prediction on what you think the spring training record will be. From what we can see, it appears as though the boys of summer will attempt to play 32 spring training games this year. That total includes the 2 exhibition games against the Reds in the Big O, but not the split-squad game against the Canadian Junior National Team on March 15th. 

Try not to forget that sometimes it rains in Florida-we are too cheap to get a dome down there and the games don`t generally get made up. There is also a chance that if one of those games goes to extra innings and one team runs out of pitchers, both teams agree to say "Fuck it, let's go play some golf" and the game ends in tie.

It is not a requirement that you select a tie breaker, and all ballots containing 25 names will be considered valid, but it is a really good idea that you choose one. Two years ago we had a stupid close finish and we actually had to break it right down to winning percentage.

It should be noted that no one has ever gone 25 for 25 in all the years we have been running this challenge; it would be really swell if that streak was broken.

Some Things To Consider:

Your Toronto Blue Jays currently have 10 players who are out of options on the 40-man roster and would therefore have to make the team or be sent through waivers before they could be demoted to the Minor Leagues. A few of these players are not in jeopardy at all, but there will be some spring training battles to keep your eyes on here for sure.

RHP Kyle Drabek 
RHP Liam Hendriks 
RHP Todd Redmond 
LHP Scott Barnes 
1B Justin Smoak 
INF Steve Tolleson 
INF Danny Valencia 

Josh Donaldson, Brett Cecil and R.A. Dickey are also out of options. These players should be on all ballots unless you think there is a chance they get injured during camp. Note to the training staff, keep Cecil away from the damn blender, please.

For a very detailed look on the out-of-option situation, check out this article.

The starting rotation looks far from settled after Dickey, Marcus Stroman, Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison take their turns. Between Aaron Sanchez, newcomer Marco Estrada and top prospect Daniel Norris, any one of them could emerge and grab that spot. The trickle down effect of who gets that job has some implications for the bullpen too.

Regarding the bullpen: Realistically, this is the most likely area where the winning ballot will distinguish itself from the others. We don't have a closer, unless you've had the idea that it will be Sanchez's role on the team rammed down your throat by the MSM long enough that you actually believe it. Drabek is an interesting name to think about here as well. Does the braintrust pull a Jeremy Jeffress (he's good enough. Oh, no, wait a minute, let's send him down a week into the season) type deal on us here?

And how about the clusterfuck behind the plate? No chance the team can break camp with three catchers while trying to convince us that "We're going to take the best team North." Dioner Navarro doesn't have a role on this team, especially if the plan is to get EE lots of DH at bats while rolling the dice with bounce-back candidate Justin Smoak at 1B. If Navarro is dealt, what, if any, MLB-ready return does he bring back?

The second base situation has long been a soft spot in this lineup and it appears as though that trend will continue, at least in the short term, until recently acquired Devon Travis lays claim to the spot. This should be the wide open race in camp. There is a chance that some passed-over free agent is looking for a minor league contract after spring training opens and comes in to win the job.

As always, there are a few intriguing names on the spring training invite list that could factor in on your ballot. Click here for that.

At the end of the day, to be the champion all you have to do is put forth a ballot with 25 names on it. Who wins what job is irrelevant in this game, but it can't be played without taking it into consideration.

Prizes:

The winner of this year's roster challenge will receive a Upper Deck Cecil Fielder baseball card, an autographed Rawlings baseball signed by former Blue Jay greats Brandon League/Gregg Zaun, AND a vote Jose button.

All prizes are yours to keep if you are proven to be victorious.

Behold!






The field in last year's edition of The 25 Man Roster Challenge was jam-packed with all-star calibre participants. We were able to get ballots from the president of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, the MLB beat writer for the Blue Jays, a finalist from the MLB Fan Cave, the beat writer for the biggest newspaper in the country and a writer who is in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, just to name a few.

The deadline for ballots will be February 22nd at midnight. Late ballots will not be considered.

We wish you all good luck.

Interview With Derrick Chung


In the interests of emptying out what is left in the interview clip from last season, here is the final instalment for your enjoyment.

In 95 games behind the dish this year he threw out 40 of a possible 98 base stealers, which is good for a shiny 41% caught stealing percentage.

With the stick he slashed:

.281/.338/.358

In fairness, that line was fuelled by his strong play in the Florida State League. In the Eastern League, he put up a somewhat troubling .240/.275/.275 performance in 171 at bats. Perhaps he wore down a little bit after only ever catching 64 games in the previous year, his first year as a catcher.

Bob Elliott wrote a nice piece about him in camp this year. Check it out.

The fine folks at MILB.com had some positive things to say about him. Check it out too.

In the interview found below our man in the trenches, Mr. Jay Floyd, caught up with Derrick in late August. They discuss:
  • The strike zone and quality of umpiring differences between MILB levels
  • The area of his game he is looking to improve
  • A few words on catching LHP Daniel Norris
  • His position change from SS to catcher 

2014-07-10

Interview With Andy Burns




If you listen closely to the really smart baseball people out there, they will all say the same thing: the biggest jump in minor league ball is from High A to AA.

We respectfully submit exhibit A for your reference: Infielder Andy Burns. In the 2013 season he played the exact same number of games in the Florida State League and the Eastern League: 64. That allows for a rather straight forward comparison.

High A:                                 AA:   
248 AB                                265 AB
45 runs                                40 runs
81 hits                                  67 hits
15 2B                                    19 2B
5 3B                                      2 3B
8 HR                                     7 HR
53 RBI                                 32 RBI
21 SB                                   12 SB
9 CS                                     5 CS
25 BB                                  23 BB
38 K                                    55 K
.327/.383/.524            .253/.309/.419


A few notes:
Batting average and OBP dropped almost 75 points
Slugging percentage was down over 100 points
The only increases were doubles and strikeouts

Stats taken from here. If they aren't fucking nerdy enough for you, go ahead and click here.

He does have roughly the equivalent of a full season of experience in AA now so let’s take a look at those numbers, which are current as of July 10.

570 AB
83 runs
140 hits
34 2B
4 3B
16 HR
69 RBI
26 SB
11 CS
56 BB
123 K
.246/.314/.404

That’s not too shabby, all things considered. With his position flexibility – 83 games at SS, 212 at 3B, 13 at 2B and 3 at 1B – he has an intriguing skill set that could potentially help a major league team, perhaps right away.

If you read that sentence again you’ll see that we didn’t say anything definitive, which is kinda neat!

Our amazing interviewer, Jay Floyd, caught up with Andy Burns last month and had a nice chat about the following topics and more:

Playing in the northeastern U.S. to start a season
The minor league life in general
Hobbies, and who the video game champion on the team is
The college baseball experience
His thoughts on a possible tobacco ban in baseball
What it’s like to hang out with some Blue Jays legends