Alejandro Kirk has been added to the Blue Jays’ Taxi Squad

Somewhat buried behind all of the trade deadline news on Monday was Alejandro Kirk, one of the Blue Jays’ top prospects, getting added to the team’s Taxi Squad.

The #BlueJays have added highly regarded catching prospect Alejandro Kirk to their taxi squad, per sources. He’s flying with the club to Miami.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) August 31, 2020

Kirk rose up the Blue Jays’ prospect rankings last year after putting up big offensive numbers between Low- and High-A. He slashed a .299/.427/.519 line in Lansing over 21 games, and then got called up to Dunedin and slashed a .288/.395/.446 line, which is impressive given the fact the Florida State League is notoriously pitcher-friendly.
The Blue Jays haven’t been able to get any offence from the catcher position this season. Reese McGuire has just three hits (and no walks!!!) over 38 plate appearances and Danny Jansen’s .573 OPS is lower than the mark of .640 he put up last season.
Calling up Kirk, who’s more of a bat-first catcher, might help that situation.
But, another thing to consider is that Kirk isn’t on the 40-man roster, so somebody else would have to be removed in order to …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Leafs Should Bring P.K. Home to Toronto

With the trade deadline behind us, now seems like the perfect time to discuss who the Leafs should target to improve their D core next season. Timing is everything and, as the old saying goes, the best time to discuss a trade was two weeks ago and the second-best time is now…. or something like that.

Anyways, as you may have already noticed, the Leafs defense is kind of awful. More specifically, their right side is sub-par and only getting worse next season. Tyson Barrie has had mixed results this year but it’s hard to argue that Toronto has an internal replacement as good as him after his likely departure this summer. This leaves the Leafs with a 28-year-old AHL lifer and a 2019 NHL rookie holding down their right side in 2020; not exactly a recipe for success. Long story short, the Leafs need another body and preferably a body that is good at hockey. The answer…. PK Subban.
Ok… hear me out. I can already sense the backlash to this idea: “PK is cooked! Do you think it’s 2016?! He costs too much! Why do you always have such terrible taeks?!”. These …

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Author: Totally Offside / The Leafs Nation

Raptors fend off Warriors in Game 1 of the Finals, win 118-109

Behind a massive game from Pascal Siakam and sustained defensive pressure across the board, the Raptors take a 1-0 series lead against the Warriors in the NBA Finals. It suddenly made sense to start it at nine o’clock.
After waiting most of Thursday for the start of Game 1 of Raptors-Warriors in the NBA Finals, the Scotiabank Arena was filled in a way it has never quite been before. Prior to tip-off — well prior — a rollicking crowd was ready to go for warmups, the anthems, the starting lineups, the entire pre-game ritual. And why not? Toronto hadn’t just waited all day for this moment, they’d waited 24 years.
But the question to the crowd was the same posed to the Raptors: could they keep up this level of energy and focus against an all-out assault from the two-time defending champion Warriors? Could anybody?
With the result of Game 1, we no longer have to ask: yes, the Raptors can. They did their thing over the full 48 minutes and won 118-109 to take a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals. Wild times.
From the jump, the game was as raucous as expected, with the Raptors and Warriors both getting up the …

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Author: Daniel Reynolds / Raptors HQ

Analyzing the Kawhi Effect and what it means for the Raptors in the Finals

With Game 6 of the ECF behind them, what have we learned about the Raptors and Kawhi Leonard? Also, will the potential return of OG Anunoby unlock something else for Toronto? It’s pretty easy for this column to devolve into “I can’t believe the Raptors are in the Finals!”, so let’s try to keep it simple. First, we’ll take a quick look back at the predominant narrative in the Eastern Conference Finals between the Raptors and the Bucks. Second, we’ll see how that applies to Toronto’s series against the Golden State Warriors.
In the process, we’ll throw in a couple other thoughts for the next four to seven games of the NBA Finals — which, again, feature the Toronto Raptors.

Kawhi Leonard, Superstar

Kawhi Leonard’s impact on both ends could not be denied in the Conference Finals. We’ve covered this story plenty, so we’ll just very quickly tie a bow on it here.
Kawhi defended Giannis Antetokounmpo for 160 possessions. The Bucks scored 143 points (89 ORTG), while Giannis scored 30 points. In all of Giannis’ other 304 possessions, the Bucks scored 361 points (119 ORTG), while Giannis scored 106 points. See the difference?
Meanwhile, in Kawhi’s 208 minutes on …

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Author: Daniel Hackett / Raptors HQ

Mitch Marner is putting on a masterclass in negotiating through the media

No matter what’s going on behind the scenes, it appears the next couple months are going to be a tumultuous time for the Leafs as far as media coverage goes. With questions about Babcock’s return and the pending restricted free agents that will have an enormous impact on the team’s cap situation, it’s no wonder every day we’re treated to a quote through one of the big sports outlets like Sportsnet or TSN about how important (or potentially devastating) this offseason will be. It’s Toronto, it’s expected.
But to zero in on the Mitch Marner contract negotiation, easily most dominant story to this point, it’s interesting how this one in particular is playing out over the airwaves. To put it bluntly, I think Marner’s “camp” is putting on a clinic on how negotiating through the media in the largest hockey media market can actually work and be effective. I mean, whoever is driving this whole thing – his agent, family, Marner himself – has been knocking this thing out of the park in terms of getting that side’s message out there. Credit where it’s due.
Think about it: Since about February …

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Author: Ryan Fancey / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays lose to Rangers in frantic three-game series

Looking to leave their Californian troubles behind, the Blue Jays headed to Texas this weekend to face off against the underwhelming Rangers (16-16), who sent the trio of Lance Lynn, Drew Smyly, and Mike Minor to the mound in what quickly became one of the most exciting (and then un-exciting) series of the season.
Though they left town with a series loss, the games provided ample bits of amusing baseball, including the team’s first position player on the mound this season. Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the weird from this weekend’s tilts at Globe Life Park:
The Good
Eric Sogard (4-for-10, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB) remains one of baseball’s hottest hitters, while Randal Grichuk (4-for-11, 2B, 2 BB) and Rowdy Tellez (4-for-13, RBI, 4 TB) were also steady contributors at the plate. Billy McKinney (3-for-5, BB, R) had himself a quietly good set.
On the mound, Trent Thornton (7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 5 SO) was surprisingly dominant, as was Tim Mayza (1.1 IP, SO, 1 H, 0 R). Ken Giles (1.0 IP, 3 SO, SV) continued his solid run, while Daniel Hudson (1.0 IP, H, BB, SO, 0 R) also turned in a solid inning, lowering his ERA to 3.68 on the season.
Sam Gaviglio (2.0 …

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Author: Hayden Godfrey / Blue Jays Nation

Tactical Issues: How will the Raptors and Magic adjust in Game 5?

The Toronto Raptors cruised to a Game 4 win behind Kawhi’s excellent two-way performance, but is that the only reason they won? The Magic got going early, but weren’t able to sustain it, and we might know why. Last Sunday, the NBA world was blessed to see an amazing two-way performance by Kawhi Leonard, a Toronto Raptor. Whatever strategy that may have worked for coach Steve Clifford and his Orlando Magic on Friday night in Game 3, it didn’t bother Kawhi one bit in Game 4.
Kawhi also followed up his lacklustre defensive showing in Game 3 with perhaps his first full game playing serious defense this season. In fact, the sight of him closing in was enough for Terrence Ross to give up a wide-open three-point shot.
So then, what else did we see in Game 4 from the Raptors and the Magic? What kind of adjustments should we expect from coaches Steve Clifford and Nick Nurse? And what can we suggest as well?
For the Magic
It’s boom or bust for the Magic if they can’t free up Nikola Vucevic. At least, that’s their mentality, and they’ve focused all of their resources throughout four games to …

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Author: JD Quirante / Raptors HQ