Gird thy loins for one of those intermittent omnibus posts wherein I try to cover all the relevant events of the last week or so. Girded? Good . . .
Item: Hill/McDonald for Johnson. On the surface, this would seem to be worthy of extensive commentary but it's more straightforward than it might seem. if you lay aside the emotionalism and focus strictly on roster management machinations, it's easy to see why both tams made the move. Both second basemen were having disheartening years, with Hill desperately in need of something to jar him out of the ditch (if anything could); both are pending free agents who will be at least B types (Johnson projects as a fringe candidate for "A" status in the AL but not the NL); both were nominally potential targets for a FA signing by the team for whom they now play.
Each team gets an opportunity for an up-close look at the new guy, the new guy gets a chance to see how they like the new team, the D'backs pick up a much needed SS and the Jays either avoid paying a first rounder for Johnson (if he'd have surprised and been a type A) or, alternately, potentially gain 2 picks for him if he leaves. it's been widely (and correctly) noted the jays might very ell look to bring Hill back if Johnson leaves and they are certain to bring McDonald back.
Hows it working out? In seven games in the desert Hill's OPS is .956, in seven games for the Jays Johnson is OPSing .996 - smiles all around.
Item: Henderson Alvarez demands your attention. The Roookie mowed through the Orioles for eight dominant innings tonight, and while it's true there is still development to be done, and there will be bumps in the road, he's making his case to stick in the majors next spring.
Item: Respect JP Arencibia. It might be claimed that since his hot start, he's been an offensive drag on the team, this turns out not to be true. In his first 40 games this season, his OPS was .824; in his next 34 games, possibly affected by the lingering hand injury, it fell to .505; but in the most recent 29 games, he's rebounded to hit even better than in the early going, with an .866 OPS. At this point he has a better HR/AB ratio than any starting catcher in baseball not named Brian McCann, slump included.
Item: Brett Lawrie is a God. that is all.
Item: there's growing unrest among jays fans, not unjustified, about whether Adam Lind is going to turn out to be too mediocre to be entitled to 1B in the coming years. Few have been a bigger defender of Lind than i have but this IS disconcerting. Coming into tonight, his "slump" now extends to a disturbing 61 games (.197/.238/.313/.551) and ESPN iswriting up features on why the Jays ought to go get Prince Fielder (I still prefer Pujols, for the record). We are actually past the point of wondering if Lind is valuable here and entering the territory where you begin to wonder if he has reasonable trade value. But if we could move Wells and actually get something, that's not a huge concern.
Item: I miss Colby Rasmus.
Item: Carlos Villianueva was activated today, Jon Rauch will likely be activated tomorrow, and while Alex has spoken of waiting out the AAA season, they are free to add more relievers if they see fit about an hour from now. Darn good thing.
Item: The initial AFL assignments have been made - Gose, Hechevarria, Yan Gomes, Evan Crawford, and Aaron Loup (the latter two being relief pitchers). If you don't understand, remember that teams draft slots in the AFL by position (as more than one MLB team shares an AFL team) and so the last couple of players on each squad are lesser-lights. It's worth noting that teams have the opportunity to send six, so there's an unfilled slot here - and these rosters do change. also, reports are that Gomes is taxi squad, as Cooper (I believe) was last year and so won't get a lot of at bats. That's too bad because Gomes is a hidden asset in the Jays system.
Item: Concerning September recalls, keep in mind that AA has said he would wait out the minor league seasons, which means it's probably another week before anyone but the injured players start appearing. Also, keep in mind that NH is in the playoffs so their season won't be over until 9/9 ant the earliest and could stretch as far as 9/17 - the Jays won't weaken that squad for a September recall. It's not impossible to see an AFL assigniee called up in September, but it's not common either. The question on everyone's lips is whether or not Adeiny will be in Toronto in September. I'm still inclined to think he will, for a couple of weeks or so, and then will be dispatched to the AFL before the last week of the major league season. Others you can expect to see include:
Dustin McGowan (from rehab/DL)
Raji Davis (from the DL)
Brad Mills (potentially tried in relief?)
Adam Loewen (if not, he's likely done in the organization)
PJ Walters (maybe . . . just for slop innings though)
That leaves the question of Kyle Drabek. I'm sure he will be IN Toronto, but whether he'll be added to the team I'm not so sure.
Item: Speaking of minor leaguers, you've probably heard by Travis d'Arnaud is Eastern League MVP, Sal Fasano in EL manager of the year, Clayton McCullough is FSL Manager of the year, Mike Redmond is MWL manager of the year, and and Bluefield's Dennis Holmberk is Appy League Manager of the year. I'm seeing a pattern here.
Item: Bluefield started their playoff series with a win tonight, New Hampshire is already qualified for the playoffs, so is Lansing; Dunedin is a game and a half up with four to play. And if Eugene holds on to win the second half title in the NWL then Vancouver is in good shape to make it too. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that never in team history has the Blue Jays organization placed five minor league teams in the playoffs.
I'm sure I probably missed something but that'll do for now.