It isn’t a stretch to say that as George Springer goes, so too will these Toronto Blue Jays. He literally vanquished the opposition last night with his kinetic play, and reminded fans why having a seasoned veteran who started as a highly touted prospect capable of one day hitting 30-30 at the top of your lineup is beyond swell; going out and (finally) using the off-season to acquire this essential piece could end up being Mark Shapiro’s greatest acquisition as president. Injuries have held Springer back from being the galvanizing force (see: Devon White, Shannon Stewart, Mookie Wilson) that’s needed to compete with genuine credibility. But his time in Houston revealed an all-star warrior with a heart of gold, even if it was tarnished by the trash-can cheating scandal that will forever be linked to his tainted World Series victory. And just like so many hecklers in New York, I’m willing to forgive but I’ll never forget.
Aaron Judge recently turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million dollar extension that would have paid him over $30 million per year. Since he’s not Mike Trout, has been injured in three of the last four regular seasons, and is on the wrong side of 30, AND also just refused Mookie Betts calibre money even though Mookie is the better player. It’s a sad commentary on the modern state of the game in 2022 that an athlete who’s best years are behind him is demanding a level of guaranteed compensation that he’ll never, ever live up to. Nothing new to see here, I get that – but there’s something so disquieting about the unequal reality of player wealth when it comes to Major League Baseball. It’s almost as if they want to mirror society’s economic disparity by reminding us that the middle-class is no longer a thing. Aaron’s going to need better public relations folks to get him through this shitstorm of a season in the Bronx where his vaunted leadership qualities and unquestioned adoration from the fans will be put to the test like never before.
The bulldog that is Alek Manoah showed up last night and flummoxed the Yankees to the tune of five innings, a single hit, and seven strikeouts. His pitch selection, velocity change and “attack-first” demeanor was nothing short of ethereal against New York hitters who were clueless and mostly slack while being mesmerized by his intimidating pitching array and a profound desire to never lick around the edges. At 24 years of age, he’s an irrefutable part of the young nucleus of talent that’s all coagulating at the same time, and at just over $700,000 in payroll salary, there’s a sense that Charlie Montoyo and Pete Walker are beyond ecstatic knowing that he’s a potential ace-in-waiting.
Relievers ruled the roost in a night of stellar pitching; Richards-Cimber-Romano combined for three innings of scoreless sweetness, with Adam throwing 15 pitches out of 18 for strikes. Although you’ll never talk about them when the dust settles, the boys in the bullpen are bound to be difference-makers on most nights than not. Factor in Yimi Garcia as a potential “backup closer” weapon who’s ended 88 games himself, and you have crucial versatility when it matters most.
Santiago Espinal is well on his way to becoming my third-favourite Dominican player on this roster. Aside from being one of the team’s best defenders, his ability to make contact at the bottom of the order creates an additional threat inside an already mercurial lineup of endless threats. The way he slashes line drives and sprays the ball around to every part of the diamond is a joy to behold. Factor in his absolutely unreal 12% strikeout rate and you’re left with a player that will soon be a starter; Cavan Biggio deserves another week to stake his claim, but I’m not sure how he’ll convince his manager that a strong eye at the plate is more useful than the ability to put the ball in play.
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