BJN Radio – Ep. 55: Free agent predictions and the ideal off-season for the Blue Jays

This is the most important off-season for the Blue Jays in a long time.

The team enjoyed a breakout 91-win season in 2021, but it wasn’t enough to get them into the playoffs. Two key members of the team, Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien, are free agents and the Blue Jays will need to either bring them back or replace them.
On this episode of BJN Radio, me and BK took a look at this winter’s free-agent market and made some predictions as to where players are going to end up. We talked about Corey Seager being the team’s ideal fit and whether that’s realistic, starting pitchers who might be safer bets than Ray, and some under-the-radar names such as Kyle Schwarber and Collin McHugh who could plug some major holes that existed on the roster last season.
We also went ahead and talked about what our ideal off-season would look like, through the lens of spending big dollars on either an impact bat or starting pitching.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Raptors Free agent flops: How Gary Trent Jr. can avoid their pitfalls

Raptors Free agent flops: How Gary Trent Jr. can avoid their pitfalls

The Toronto Raptors are staring several important questions right in the face this season, most notably how Pascal Siakam will perform, the development of Scottie Barnes, and Fred VanVleet’s efficiency. The play of Gary Trent Jr., at least right now, doesn’t seem to be one of the major uncertain factors. Unless they’re asking him to […]
Raptors Free agent flops: How Gary Trent Jr. can avoid their pitfalls – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Avishai Sol / Raptors HQ

Raptors: Remembering when Kawhi Leonard became the “Fun Guy”

Raptors: Remembering when Kawhi Leonard became the “Fun Guy”

The Toronto Raptors made the most important and impactful trade in franchise history a little over three years ago today, as they acquired disgruntled superstar Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs despite the fact that Leonard only had one year left on his deal and had his eyes set on Los Angeles. Even with […]
Raptors: Remembering when Kawhi Leonard became the “Fun Guy” – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Deadline Primer: The Rotation

Before we get started, it’s important to point out that the starting rotation options for this trade deadline are bleak at best. The likely strategy for most teams looking for pitching help will be to add to the bullpen, and The Blue Jays should be no different. But let’s have a look at some of the potential targets if Ross Atkins and the front office do decide to venture into a heavy seller’s market.

In 2020, the team added Taijuan Walker who had barely pitched in the two and a half years before becoming a Blue Jay. The acquisition cost was next to nothing, and the additions of starters-turned-relievers Robbie Ray and Ross Stripling were likely in the same vein. Walker went on to make six starts in a Blue Jays uniform and performed extremely well, exceeding all expectations. A similar, low-risk-high-reward move could be in the cards for The Jays this trade deadline, however, The Jays rotation is much more solidified this season than it was last.
Robbie Ray has emerged as the clear-cut ace of the staff, and despite a rough patch, Hyun-Jin Ryu appears to be getting back on track. A top of the rotation …

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Author: DeuceDoucette / Blue Jays Nation

Looking at how the Blue Jays value versatility

“No duh, Brennan, versatility is incredibly important. So what point are you trying to make here?”

You may be asking yourself as you read the title. Yes, versatility is one of the most important facets of the game of baseball. Lacking versatility can significantly limit the use of a player below replacement level.
So why bring up versatility? Well, let me ask you a question. Who is the Jays backup first baseman? In this article, I’ll be speaking on quite a few topics regarding how the Jays use versatility, including the big leagues and how it plays a role on the makeup of the team, the minor leagues, and finally, what we can look for during the trade deadline.
Versatility in the big leagues…
The Jays have many needs, relief pitching is the first thing that comes to mind, but the starting pitching staff can use more depth and the Jays need a third baseman. One position that has not been needing an upgrade is first base, even though the Jays only have one first baseman on their 26 man roster. Even with all this said, Vlad has played a significant amount as the DH.
This is where versatility comes …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Raptors draft: 4 quality Big 12 prospects not named Cade Cunningham

Raptors draft: 4 quality Big 12 prospects not named Cade Cunningham

This Toronto Raptors draft may be more important than any class in close to a decade, as the front office has a chance to potentially land the next cornerstone of their franchise with their first-round selection. The pick currently has the seventh-best odds of becoming the top selection, which will likely become Oklahoma State’s Cade […]
Raptors draft: 4 quality Big 12 prospects not named Cade Cunningham – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

TLN Three Stars: Game lost, Captain lost, and optimism lost

TLN Three Stars: Game lost, Captain lost, and optimism lost

Let’s start with the most important thing on our minds following that loss to the Canadiens, that is the injury to John Tavares. You can find a summary of the incident here, and aside from Chris Johnston’s update that Tavares was taken to the hospital, we are still left wondering how he’s doing.
Now as for the game itself, the Leafs were victim to Carey Price playing like the Carey Price that used to be talked about as one of the greatest goaltenders in the world. His robbing of Marner on his one-timer attempt during a 2 on 1 with Nylander was the additional bad omen the Leafs didn’t need tonight. The Habs scored shortly after the Tavares injury, and the Leafs were able to hold on for the rest of the period, and actually rally as best they could in the second with a goal from Nylander, but Price was vintage Price, and that’s all they got before the predestined short handed goal by Paul Byron in the third that put emphasis on how toxic the Leafs powerplay has been this year. Arguably Jack Campbell should want that one back, but he’s probably the third …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Jack Campbell looks to potentially take the starter’s reigns vs. Flames

Tonight may be the most important game of Jack Campbell’s career.
The Leafs go into tonight’s game against the Flames having lost six of their last seven, with five of them seeing Frederik Andersen play in net (although he didn’t start against Ottawa). This has come while the Leafs have a 54.58% 5v5 CF% and a 56.39% 5v5 xGF%, which is fifth and fourth in the league during that span. The Leafs are clearly losing games because of Frederik Andersen, and unlike past seasons where this has been the case, it hasn’t been backed up by otherwise good to elite goaltending.
Campbell hasn’t gotten the crease much in his Leafs tenure, but when he has, he’s impressed. He has a .920 save percentage in 9 games with the Leafs, and a .951 in 3 games this season. It’s an incredibly small sample size, but his .918 career save percentage has at least earned him the benefit of the doubt, especially with Freddie playing as poorly as he has. If he plays well, there’s a good chance he at least gets to split the starts, although there’s reason to believe that that was the plan all along.
Of course, …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Leafs announce the hirings of Mark Fraser and Justin Bobb to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion roles

The Leafs made an important announcement today in regards to Diversity and Inclusion within the Leafs organization with two key hirings:
Via David Alter:

It’s great to see Mark Fraser return to the Leafs, and earlier this year Mark Fraser joined Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 and Oilersnation to speak about his experiences as a Person of Colour in hockey:
It wasn’t a constant thing, however, some of my memorable incidents dealing with racism in hockey came at a younger age, unfortunately. You know whether that be from opposing team’s parents or then at the junior level, ridiculous fans sitting beside the penalty box, and having a few moments to utter some racial slurs your direction. That was definitely something that I experienced before I hit the pros.
At the pro level though, I mean yeah, definitely I encountered it. I don’t think that there is a single black hockey player who hasn’t experienced racism both at grassroots and at pro levels if they made it that far.
The difference between the two, for me, was the overt racism in my youth. At the pro level, it would have been more, more in an inadvertent, perhaps …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs reportedly searching for offensive help

Ah yes, the all important search for secondary scoring. A search that seems a little more pointless after Travis Boyd and Wayne Simmonds scoring last night, but with the injuries to Joe Thornton and Nick Robertson, it’s going to be a storyline that likely won’t go away, and one that the Leafs would probably be wise to pursue, but maybe not with the same sense of injury that seemed required a few days ago.
From Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts:
I didn’t think Toronto would need forwards, but here we are. With Nicholas Robertson and Joe Thornton out long-term, the Maple Leafs are searching for any potential upgrades to what they’ve got.
So when we look at what they’ve got, this largely points to a few players needing to show more. Both Ilya Mikheyev and Alexander Kerfoot seem more primed to be defensive specialists, and an offensive output should be considered a pleasant surprise, rather than a line that can be counted on to produce. Jason Spezza certainly doesn’t look to be a secondary scoring option so far, but it’s questionable how much he’s been given linemates to help him produce offense. One …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation