The Blue Jays can learn a lesson from the Minnesota Twins and their aggressive off-season

While everybody in the American League waited around this winter, throwing their arms in the air and conceding the Pennant to the Big Three of New York, Boston, and Houston, the Minnesota Twins boldly said “fuck it” and just casually slipped in through the back door.

Minnesota, fresh off a 78-84 season, decided that they were going to capitalize on two-thirds of Major League Baseball going through rebuilds at the exact same time. While everyone else was obsessing over the advent optimizing the control years of cheap talent and avoiding spending money like it was the goddamn plague, the Twins swooped in and took what the market presented them.
They made multiple under-the-radar additions, signing Marwin Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Martin Perez, and Michael Pineda in free agency. None of those guys are huge names, but all of them fell through the cracks as so many teams decided they wanted to avoid spending money in free agency.
Here we are in the middle of July and the Twins have a 58-35 record and a 96.3 percent chance of making the playoffs. Those aforementioned free agents account for nearly half of their everyday lineup and the back part …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

On Vlad’s early struggles

The 2019 season is the year of Vlad. Everybody knew the team was going to be bad this year, but the arrival of baseball’s prodigy, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, was going to make it all worth it.

Expectations were massive. FanGraphs’ Steamer projected Vlad to put up a 138 wRC+, which would be 14th best in all of baseball, better than stars like Aaron Judge, Manny Machado, and Paul Goldschmidt. Pretty much all of us expected he would hit the ground running and dominate big league pitching, just like he hit the ground running at every new level he was promoted to in the minors.
That hasn’t happened. Nine games into the Vlad era, he’s slashing an ugly 152/.243/.182 line with 10 strikeouts in 33 at-bats. Since he had three hits in each of his first three games, Vlad has gone just two-for-twenty-one.
Does Vlad need to be sent back down to Triple-A to learn how to hit? Is he a bust?! Is it time to slam the panic button?
No. Vlad is going to be fine.
His early struggles represent the reality that being a good Major League Baseball player is really, really fucking hard. While many players have slid into the …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Leafs are Canada’s team

Everybody is going to be watching Game 7 tonight in Boston. This is because it features Canada’s team.

The Leafs aren’t Canada’s team simply because they’re the only Canadian team left in the playoffs and Canada’s Stanley Cup hopes rest on their shoulders. The Leafs are Canada’s team because everyone cares about them. Everyone. 
This is a debate we have every year when there’s only one Canadian team left. When the Oilers went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006, Oilers fans liked to refer to themselves as Canada’s team. They were a shocking an endearing underdog who perfectly represented Canada. But Flames fans didn’t feel that way. Oilers fans also didn’t feel that way when the Flames went to the Final in a similar underdog Cinderella run a couple of years earlier.
There was also Ottawa in 2007, Vancouver in 2011, and Winnipeg in 2018 who went on extended playoff runs. None of those teams perfectly embodied the advent of being Canada’s team quite like the Leafs do. There just wasn’t the same focus of conversation around those teams like there is with the Leafs right now.
No other team can get …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

Round 1 Game 5 Postgame: Leafs vs. Bruins

Okay everybody, take a deep breath, and relax.
We did the thing again. We went into Boston and, when we needed to, got the victory. Now we head home with an opportunity to finish the job. Let’s take a closer look at how they did.
1st Period
The Leafs did an excellent job in the first of keeping the game tight, holding the Bruins to just six shots through the first, with some excellent defensive plays.

Nylander with a nice defensive play to strip DeBrusk off the puck. #LeafsForever
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) April 19, 2019

Brown with a strong defensive play to clear the puck out of trouble. #LeafsForever
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) April 19, 2019

Also, Andersen was solid when needed.

Andersen was excellent on the PK. #LeafsForever
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) April 19, 2019

2nd Period
The second period saw much of the same, as it was a tightly played game, but we did start to see more chances.

Kapanen and Matthews convert a nice give-and-go. #LeafsForever
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) April 20, 2019

Kapanen with a great look shorthanded just misses the net. #LeafsForever pic.twitter. …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation