Welcome to another of edition of Little Blue Birds. This week, we have three notes about the Toronto Blue Jays and baseball in Canada.
The Blue Jays announced the other day that Marcus Stroman would be the Opening Day starter. Stroman was the obvious choice, and this was more of a formality than anything else. Although R.A. Dickey could have been another choice, Stroman’s performance in the post-season last year, coupled with the fact he was supposed to be the Opening Day starter last year before injury, made Stroman the top candidate to open the 2016 season. As of Saturday night, over three Spring Training starts, Stroman is 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA in 9.2 innings pitched, with nine strikeouts and a 0.72 WHIP. Stroman, Dickey, Marco Estrada, and J.A. Happ are set to be the 1-4 guys in the rotation, and we could potentially see someone like Aaron Sanchez or Drew Hutchison take the fifth spot. The rotation could still use an upgrade, but if Stroman pitches like he did last season then it will be fun to watch him take the mound every week.
Really, Toronto, you extended John Gibbons? Of course they did; it would have been awkward if the Blue Jays didn’t extend him after last season and, although many people disagree with this, Shapiro and Atkins did do one thing that made the Gibbons haters very happy. Yes, he is under contract for the 2016-17 season, but that really weird rollover clause his buddy Alex Anthopoulos gave him is now gone. The clause was a nuisance in the eyes of anyone who didn’t approve of Gibbons being manager of this ball club.
The clause pretty much gave Gibbons a new deal on January first of every year. If the team couldn’t come to an agreement with him, or couldn’t decide on kicking him to the curb, he would be extended for the upcoming season. Now that clause is gone and if there is a slow start to the season, you can be sure that Gibbons will be looking for work. After last year’s playoff run, there is no way Jays fans will settle for less.
It’s really awkward when one of your top sluggers is saying that the Jays don’t want him because they aren’t giving him the deal he wants while he’s out of Spring Training due to an injury. It seems like Edwin Encarnacion had health issues in the past few seasons, with back problems, a right quad strain, a wrist injury, etc. If you had to pick between keeping Jose Bautista and Encarnacion, even if Bautista is older, you would probably try your best to keep him. That isn’t to say that Edwin is done as a Blue Jay, but he needs to keep off the disabled list for a while and prove to the Jays that he is at least healthy enough to make the money he is asking for. We know what he brings to the table, but the injuries are a bit concerning.
This was another edition of Little Blue Birds from LWOS. Feel free to leave some comments below and, of course, Happy Easter.