For Fans, By Fans

Echoes From 527: Spring Training (3)

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Forgive the delay, its been a hectic week adjusting back to life in the real world following my trip south.

The final day of my Grapefruit League tour took us into Kissime, Disneyland to be specific as the Blue Jays were set to take on the Braves at Champions Stadium. Now, before I go any further, I should point out the fact that the Champ features a deal where you can buy souvenir glass of beer for 7 bucks at a number of concession stands around the park. The kicker? You can take these glasses back and have them filled for a mere 4 dollars… All game long.  I took full advantage of this deal and my notes payed the price.

- Anthony Gose put on another clinic during this one by flashing both his speed and power throughout . Again, his over all speed seemed to distract the opposing pitchers to the point where they weren’t able to execute their pitches the way they wanted when the speedster was on base. Naturally, Tony took full advantage of this and played into their weaknesses, leading to a pair of SB’s and 4 Runs.

- Josh Johnson turned in his best showing of the young Grapefruit League slate as he made a number of Atlanta’s bats (including Jason Heyward and the Upton brothers) look foolish throwing a variety of razor sharp pitches while mixing speeds between 79 and 95 MPH.

- Johnson was followed up by Jermey Jeffress who also looked dominant in his 2.1 innings of work. Of the 7 batters Jeffress faced, he struck out 3 while hitting 98 on his Fastball and dropping all the way down to 73… Yes, 73 MPH on the off-speed, a drop of 25 MPH. Crazy.

- Steve Delabar was brought in for the 8th and despite surrendering a lead off Single, was able to get out of the inning by enduing some weak contact. As Delabar was throwing in the mid 90′s, a Braves fan sitting a few rows away from us looked over at his friends and dropped what was probably my favorite line of the trip. “Damn, don’t they have anybody on this team that cant hit 95?”

Despite missing out on a number of key players due to the WBC, I enjoyed my week in Florida as I was able to get a good look at some of the depth this team has in it’s system.  Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I plan on doing up a post on some of these fringe players that were undoubtedly taking full advantage of their playing time in front of the brass as their big league counterparts were off playing for their respective countries.

If there was one thing i’d like to remind people about this spring training, it’s that the Blue Jays are operating with a shell of the team that we will see come opening day. With guys like Reyes, Encarnacion. R.A. Dickey and others out of this lineup throughout the duration of the Classic, Toronto has been stripped of some of their stars resulting in a weaker lineup during Grapefruit League play.

Another item worth pointing out is the team’s minor league system. If you are using 2012′s record of 24-7 during Spring Training as an indication of how “poorly” this team has performed thus far, I remind you that last springs strength was in the team’s farm system. A farm system that has been depleted following a number of trades this off-season.

The majority of Toronto’s Runs have come in the first 5 or so innings of their Grapefruit League games this spring. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the way the majority of Toronto’s Runs were scored last March as the team’s minor leaguer’s often out matched their opponents late in games.

At the end of the day, Spring Training is more about individual performances instead of Win/Loss records as teams constantly shuffle through their rosters trying to get a good look at their players. Despite some spotty pitching performances, the Blue Jays as a whole have been playing fairly well (offensively) when they field their regulars.

Nobody won the World Series in March, last years record both in spring training and the regular season should be a fair indicator of this logic.

 

 

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