An early look at the position players the Blue Jays lost in free agency, and who they were replaced by

Earlier, we posted an article that compared the new pitchers, Kevin Gausman and Yusei Kikuchi, to the pitchers the Jays lost during the off-season, Robbie Ray and Steven Matz.

This article will focus on the position players, but will also feature signings and trades, unlike the last article. First, we’ll start with the infielders.
Matt Chapman compared to Marcus Semien:
This isn’t a direct replacement, as Chapman plays third base, while Semien played second for the team in 2021. It did move Espinal, who’s well on his way to winning his first Gold Glove, to second base. Despite that, this comparison has to stay in this article.
Marcus Semien:
Semien had a fantastic 2019 as he had a slash line of .285/.369/.522 with 33 homers in 747 plate appearances. Moreover, he struck out 13.7% of the time while walking 11.6% of the time, rather impressive numbers. He also had a Defensive Runs Saved of 7 at shortstop, a premium position.
Unfortunately for Oakland, Semien couldn’t repeat  his great season in 2020. The Bay native slashed .233/.305/.374 in 236 plate appearances. He added seven homers in the shortened season, but it was a far cry from his 2019 season. Furthermore, his Defensive Runs Saved slipped to -6 at the position.
It’s safe to say that he needed a new start and as you know, the Blue Jays took a gamble on Marc …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

The Bruins can never be taken lightly as a playoff opponent

If one thing was made clear in our post earlier today, there’s no shortage of people who think it’s in the Leafs best interest to face the Bruins. I’m not sure I fall into that camp, and while it seems less than likely the Bruins will be who Toronto faces in the first round, there is still a very real possibility that a team whose identity is based on playing “playoff hockey” is going to be able to upset either the Panthers, or based on the current seeding, run through the Metropolitan Division and reemerge to face an Atlantic Division opponent in the Conference Finals. If the Leafs somehow find themselves there, I can’t imagine a more fitting, but unwelcome barrier to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Boston by the numbers:

Boston
Toronto
GP
75
76
Pts
97 (10th)
106 (3rd)
GF
231 (18th)
293 (2nd)
GA
201 (4th)
234 (18th)
PP%
21.6% (14th)
27.8% (1st)
PK%
82.3% (8th)
83.0% (7th)
CF%
54.40%
53.70%
xGF%
56.81%
55.29%
HDCF%
56.27%
55.44%
HDGF%
54.97%
51.21%
PDO
0.989
1.002
as of April 19th
For a team that has a reputation for playing a punishing style of hockey, they are also statistical darlings and their lower point total shouldn’t put teams at ease, especially when looking at their PDO. If things start going anywhere close to right for this team, they are capable of making things difficult for absolutely every team in the league.
Forwards
A forward group that begins with a line of Pastrnak, Bergeron, and Marchand begs to be taken seriously. Throw in a supporting cast led by Taylor Hall, Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith and the Bruins show signs of offensive depth.
Of course, the Bruins are first and foremost shit disturbers and it doesn’t stop at Marchand. Trent Frederic, Nick Foligno, and Jake DeBrusk aren’t fun to play against. Even the Bruins depth seems to understand that if they want to be in the lineup, they need to make life difficult means there aren’t too many easy shifts …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Gosuke Katoh has made the Blue Jays and will be added to the 40-man roster

We learned earlier today that Greg Bird had opted out of his minor league contract with the Blue Jays as the team opted not to add him to the 40-man roster.

We know now why that was the case.
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith, Gosuke Katoh has cracked the Blue Jays’ roster. He was also at camp on a minor league deal, so Katoh will fill the Blue Jays’ final open 40-man roster spot.

Gosuke Katoh has made the #BlueJays
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) April 4, 2022

While everybody got really charged up about Bird because he used to be a top prospect and he had a good spring, Katoh made more sense for the Blue Jays given their roster composition. Bird is pretty much limited to playing first base or serving as the designated hitter, while Katoh, who’s also a lefty, can play just about every position. With Vladdy entrenched at first base and the DH slot a revolving door for off-days, a utility infielder is a better fit for this team than a power bat.
Katoh had a solid spring, going 8-for-23 with two doubles and a homer, along with two walks and six strikeouts. The former second-round pick of the Yankees has never played at the big league level, but he slashed an impressive .306/.388/.474 line over 402 plate appearances for the San Diego Padres Triple-A team last season.
Assuming nobody is designated for assignment, the Blue Jays are now at a full 40-man roster.
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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

It looks like Cleveland’s contract negotiations with Jose Ramirez aren’t going very well

Earlier this week, news came out that the Guardians were nearing a contract extension and that the team would do “whatever it takes” to keep the three-time All-Star in Cleveland for the majority of his career.

Well, it seems that the “whatever it takes” sentiment doesn’t include money, as the team offered Ramirez a four-year extension worth $89 million.

According to @mikedeportes the #Guardians first offer to Jose Ramirez was $89M in an additional 4-year deal, but Ramirez and his agents don’t seem to like the idea so much, that why talk got bit slower but anything can happen before the opening day. https://t.co/cRHuZMuENT
— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) April 2, 2022

For context, that’s an average salary of $22.25 million per year, which is in the ballpark of the deal that kyle Schwarber signed with the Phillies in March. I don’t think the player who ranks third in baseball in wins above replacement since the start of the 2018 season is looking for Kyle Schwarber money.
According to Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com, extension talks between Ramirez and the Guardians “have bogged down, if not ended.” The goal was to get Ramirez signed before Opening Day, which is next Friday, and it seems that isn’t going to happen.
Assuming this wasn’t an April Fools’ Day prank played by Cleveland and the Guardians actually fail to reach a new deal with their best player, the Ramirez-to-Toronto rumours are going to continue throughout the season. If July rolls around and Cleveland isn’t in the mix to contend, you’d think they’d pull the trigger on a trade. The longer Cleveland waits, the less they’re going to be able to command in return. …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Source: Maple Leafs to unveil new alternate jersey later this season

Earlier in the year, someone connected to the team told me that the Maple Leafs would have a few new jerseys this season. They said the white St Pats jerseys would be back, there’d be one for the Heritage Classic, and that the Maple Leafs would be getting a new alternate jersey as well. This same source told me that the Heritage Classic uniforms would be a previous re-design of a jersey from the early 1900s. They were right. Today, this graphic was posted to the Maple Leafs’ social media accounts.

We’re flipping things up for March pic.twitter.com/SK7vOvs1HF
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 1, 2022

The graphic shows the current Leafs logo, a purple Leafs logo (?) the Arenas, the St Pats and NextGen. I don’t know what the purple Leafs logo could be, maybe just a warm-up jersey like the purple Hockey Fights Cancer jerseys are. NextGen being last and more prominent makes me feel it is not just a warm-up jersey. I believe it is based on the information my source told me about a new alternate. The graphic seems to be colour coordinated to match specific jerseys. Blue for normal Maple Leafs, Green for St Pats, a different shade of blue for the Arenas, purple for mental health awareness or gender equality (that’s just a guess), and NextGen is in black and gold. Black and gold for a Maple Leafs jersey? Weird. But it matches what my source said about the new alternate jersey being “Very different.”
Here are all four colour coordinated images present in the graphicBlack and gold would be very different. My source did not give any hints to what the jersey could look like this time as they did with the heritage classic. Maybe it could be a type of city-inspired …

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Author: Stephen Brown / The Leafs Nation

The NHL All-Star weekend can be fixed

Earlier this week, Nick Barden shared his thoughts for a better version of All-Star weekend. To be honest, I agreed with a lot of what he had to say, but I don’t think he went far enough. His version is definitely more interesting but All-Star weekend needs a drastic overhaul for it to get past the stage of casually tuning in if you can’t find anything better to do.
That’s why I’m going with a ten point plan for an All-Star weekend I’d actually care about, while still considering the following facts. This needs to be something that works for the NHL and it’s sponsors. There needs to be some kind of incentive to make the weekend appealing for the players to show up. And while I’m without a doubt a hockey fan, the All-Star game is geared more towards a younger audience as well as the people who get to experience the event in person. So considering those factors, here’s my thoughts on how to improve it.
1. Bring back the fantasy draft in all it’s drunken glory
This is one of the few things the NHL ever landed on that seemed to be well received and it was killed within a couple of years. The event finally showed the players acting human, and joking around and had the added fun of getting way too invested in who was going to …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The case for and against the Leafs reacquiring Phil Kessel

Earlier this week, Frank Seravalli released an updated trade targets list and he included a player that needs no introduction to Leafs fans: Phil Kessel.
Few players in team history have garnered quite a mixed reputation amongst the fanbase the way he did in the six seasons he donned the Blue and White.
His talent was undeniable, highlighted by him scoring 394 points in 446 games as a Leaf and leading the team scoring every season he played in Toronto. But he arrived with lofty expectations stemming from the trade that brought him to Toronto in exchange for two first-round picks that became Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.
The Leafs only made the playoffs once throughout his stay, and a large portion of the blame for the constant losing fell on him because of his perceived lack of work ethic. Because of his high-profile role, he was forced into the spotlight where he looked completely out of his element and flabbergasted. So by 2015, he was shipped off to the Penguins where we would go on to win two Stanley Cups, thus closing the chapter on a wasted six years with one of the most gifted snipers in NHL history.
The reputation surrounding Kessel in Toronto has not gone away, even despite him proving to be a key component on a Cup-winning team. But a lot has changed in nearly seven years since the last time he played for the Leafs and this raises two questions. Does it make any sense to bring him back? And if so, should they?
The case for
As stated before, the value that Kessel prov …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Should the Toronto Raptors try to sell high on Chris Boucher?

Should the Toronto Raptors try to sell high on Chris Boucher?

Earlier in the season, Toronto Raptors power forward Chris Boucher was performing so poorly that he was relegated to the back end of the bench. Just one month ago, Boucher received a DNP-CD after a stretch of games in which he was inefficient on offense and out of position on defense. Boucher’s fall from grace […]
Should the Toronto Raptors try to sell high on Chris Boucher? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

What does this Edward Rogers drama mean for the Blue Jays?

There was a lot of optimism in the air earlier this week when Mark Shapiro did his end-of-season press conference.

Shapiro said that the Blue Jays haven’t yet finalized their payroll budget for the 2022 season, as the front office is still a few weeks away from making its pitch to ownership, but he said he was optimistic that Rogers would continue along with the big-picture plan of investing in the team as they started to get better.
That optimism took a hit on Thursday evening when word came out that Edward Rogers, the son of the guy with the statue outside of the Rogers Centre, had been ousted from his role as the company’s chair.
This comes after Ed Rogers apparently tried to boot the company’s chief executive officer, Joe Natale, from his role and replace him with chief financial officer, Tony Staffieri. Adding to the drama is that Rogers is also in the midst of trying to execute a $26 billion takeover of Shaw, one of the other Canadian telecom juggernauts.
The story, per The Globe and Mail, about how Ed Rogers’ plan ultimately got surfaced is absolutely hilarious, like something out of a bad movie…
“The …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

There are still more Leafs players to rank

Earlier today we finished up with our prospect rankings, and probably to surprise of no one, Rasmus Sandin was crowned the best of the bunch. If you haven’t read it yet, sorry for spoiling it for you, but I’m assuming you connected the dots when he was the last one left unranked, or put two and two together based on his NHL readiness, upside, and performance so far in his career. Before going any further I want to thank the TLN group for the excellent work they did on the series, and it’s because of that good work that I’m rewarding them with even more work.
Every preseason we take a look at the Leafs roster and profile the players and do our best to guess what they will deliver in the coming year. Sometimes we present them to you alphabetically, other times we’ve gone completely random, this year we’re sticking with the spirit of Ranking SZN, and ranking the top 20 Leafs start next Monday. To make it even more fun, I’ve decided that each article the writer has to assign a goal song to the player they are writing about. Well, at …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation