BJN Radio – Ep. 78: The 2016 team comparison, Joey Votto’s successful finale in Toronto, and more!

It was another series win that left a sour aftertaste.

As they did with Seattle, the Blue Jays took the first two games against a weak opponent and then came up short with a chance to pull off a sweep.
In the post-Reds series episode of BJN Radio, we gave praise to Hyun Hin Ryu for another good start, questioned whether it was right for Charlie Montoyo to not give Alek Manoah the ninth inning, and looked at Bo Bichette’s low-key hot streak in the month of May. We also talked about the handful of guys who aren’t hitting and wondered how long such cold streaks can possibly continue.
We also talked about Joey Votto playing likely his last game in Toronto, barring a trade, and talked about whether we root for Canadian players when they go up against the Blue Jays.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Maple Leafs’ respect from Stanley Cup champions provides little consolation for another first-round exit

Now what?
That’s the question the Toronto Maple Leafs are left to answer after falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 7 on Saturday.
After a franchise record 54 wins and 115-point season, the Maple Leafs appeared set to write a new chapter in the playoffs. When they drew the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions as their opening-round opponent, they were eager to measure up against the best.
And despite what was a very close series, the Leafs found themselves on the losing end, again.
Another opening-round playoff defeat.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish,” Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said.
It’s the sixth consecutive opening-round exit for a team that hasn’t won a playoff series since 2004 and the pain is compounded by the fact that they held leads 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 in the series, along with many opportunities in the overtime of Game 6 to close it out.
But the champions already have it figured out, while challengers have to find a way.
In the end, they just ran into a better, more-refined version of themselves.
“They’ve got all the pieces,” Lightning forward Steven Stamkos said of the Leafs. “They have everything, it’s just that we have everything, too.”
Heading into Game 7, the Maple Leafs never wavered in their confidence. They came out with a lot of energy, buoyed by a full-capacity Scotiabank Arena crowd, who were treated to their first Game 7 at home since Apr. 20, 2004.
Toronto got out to a great start and had a 5-1 shots advantage before a power play for Tampa in the second half of the first period evened things out.
The Lightning opened the scoring late in the period when Nick Paul picked up a rebound from Ross Colton’s shot for a 1-0 lead.
In the …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Kyle Schwarber signs with the Phillies. Who else can the Jays target?

The Philadelphia Phillies have signed 29-year-old left fielder, Kyle Schwaber.
 

#Phillies deal with Kyle Schwarber, pending physical, is a 4-year agreement with an AAV just under $20 million per year, sources tell The Athletic.@JSalisburyNBCS was on this
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) March 16, 2022

With the acquisition of Matt Chapman, a righty, the Jays are desperately in need of a left handed batter to break up their right batter heavy approach. Schwarber would have fit that bill perfectly, but he’s not an option any more. So let’s briefly look at the options.
Eddie Rosario:
It was reported by Carlos Baerga (who broke the Chapman trade) that the Blue Jays were looking in on the lefty outfielder. In 2021, the 30-year-old slashed .257/.305/.740 with 14 homers in 412 plate appearances. However, in the three years prior to the pandemic, he put up a 27 HR season, a 24 HR season and a 32 HR season, the latter coming in 2019.
In that 2019 season, he slashed .276/.300/.800 in 590 plate appearances, however, he had a BB% of 3.7%, which somehow isn’t his lowest walk rate of his career. The left fielder also has had solid seasons defensively, including a 2 DRS in left field in 2021.
Michael Conforto:
The 29-year-old left batting outfielder has spent his career with the New York Mets. In 2021, he slashed .232/.344/.729 with 14 homers. His career best season came in 2019, where he slashed .257/.363/.856 where he added 33 homers, which shows an interesting trend. Like Rosario and Chapman, his post pandemic numbers took a hit.
The Mets also gave him a qualifying offer, meaning the team that signs him will forfeit their second round pick, a big reason why the Jays shouldn’t bother with Conforto.
Corey Dickerson:
The 32-year-old lefty played the majority of the season in left field. He posted a -1 DRS at the position and is pretty …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

The Jake Muzzin Situation

I left work today with my phone at 1% battery, so I get to the car, plug my phone in, and I’ve got 10 notifications saying “Dance, CBA man, dance!” The people demand to know why Latvian legend Kristians Rubins and KHL stud Brennan Menell have emerged on the Leafs roster seemingly out of nowhere.
As you likely know by now, the Leafs recalled those two defencemen and subsequently loaned Rasmus Sandin to the minors. This was an attempt to get as close to the upper limit as possible before placing Jake Muzzin and his $5.625m cap hit on LTIR. In the most simple terms, teams do this because any unused cap space at the time a player is placed on LTIR is lost.
Typically this is demonstrated by saying a team has an $80m cap hit on an $81.5m upper limit. That team has a $5m player they want to put on LTIR, and no matter what, the day they place that player on LTIR they will have exactly $5m in cap space. If they make no roster moves, $1.5m is essentially lost. If they recall two players with a $750k cap hit before placing said player on LTIR, t …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

Leafs demonstrate some lessons learned as there is a new look blueline in practice

The first eight games of the season left a lot to be desired. Considering the schedule the Leafs were handed we should be talking about a 6-2-0 Leafs team instead of a 3-4-1 team, that needed a comeback overtime win to defeat the 0-5-2 Chicago Blackhawks.
While the forward group has certainly taken plenty of heat in the past couple of weeks, the blueline hasn’t done particularly well either.
Jake Muzzin’s rough start exemplifies Leafs’ early struggles

The Muzzin and Holl pairing has been especially bad, while the Sandin and Dermott pairing has been one of the bright spots for the Leafs in the early days. As Nick Richard wrote in the article linked above, Muzzin has had his share of issues, but the other half of that pairing, Justin Holl, has arguably struggled more. And after Holl getting an earful from Auston Matthews on Wednesday night, the Leafs felt comfortable with spicing up their pairings, and giving Holl a paid night off work.

The third pair is Liljegren-Sandin
Holl appears to be the 7th D at Leafs practice @TSN_Edge
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) October 29, 2021

Those are your new look pairings for the game Saturday …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Will the Toronto Raptors regret waiving Ishmail Wainright?

Will the Toronto Raptors regret waiving Ishmail Wainright?

The Toronto Raptors had two open roster spots left before they solidified their opening day configuration, meaning that three non-guaranteed players Ishmail Wainright, Isaac Bonga, and Sam Dekker were vying for those two openings. Nick Nurse took his time coming to a decision, but his move was not what the Ugandan national team player wanted […]
Will the Toronto Raptors regret waiving Ishmail Wainright? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Raptors: Fred VanVleet confirms OG Anunoby is top offensive option

Raptors: Fred VanVleet confirms OG Anunoby is top offensive option

The Toronto Raptors may not have left TD Garden with a victory against the Boston Celtics, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be encouraged by some of the performances they saw in that game. OG Anunoby continued his upward ascension as a scorer, as he and Fred VanVleet helped keep Toronto in this game. VanVleet […]
Raptors: Fred VanVleet confirms OG Anunoby is top offensive option – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Toronto Raptors: 3 players that will make or break the season

Toronto Raptors: 3 players that will make or break the season

There are only a few days left until the Toronto Raptors start their 27th season. They will play against the Washington Wizards on Oct. 20 in Toronto. The Raptors will be in Toronto for the first time since February of 2020, and the excitement is palpable. The ups and downs this franchise had to suffer […]
Toronto Raptors: 3 players that will make or break the season – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Pirasanth Gunasekaram / Raptors HQ

TLN Top 20 Leafs: #15 Ondrej Kase

Few Toronto Maple Leafs have left me as intrigued with possibility as the signing of Ondrej Kase has. Once a promising, budding star with the Anaheim Ducks, Kase’s extended list of injuries has prevented him from realizing that 25+ goal potential he showed in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons. After a disappointing stint with the Boston Bruins, the Leafs are taking a low risk, high reward flier on the 25-year-old Czech winger.
The range of outcomes in Kase’s time with the Leafs is incredibly wide. If the injuries continue and he can’t consistently play in the lineup, Kase may be an afterthought and a $1M LTIR castaway. On the flip side, a healthy Kase could finally provide Toronto with the bottom six play driver they’ve desperately been seeking following the departure of Nazem Kadri. That array of possibilities with Kase is what makes him such a fascinating addition to myself and many others, one that I will be keeping a keen eye on in training camp, assuming he is healthy and ready to play.
Five Important Stats

2021 Games Played
2019/20 5v5 Points
2019/20 5v5 CF%
2019/20 5v5 Shots/60
2019/20 SH%
3
20
54.02%
9.96
4.17%
The only stat that really matters when it comes to Ondrej Kase is …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

A Fortnight On The Farm: Mid-Season Edition (Part Two, Double-A, High-A, and Low-A)

Picking up where I left off yesterday…

New Hampshire
Famously the home of the cream of the prospect crop in the Jays system, if you go 40 deep, Buffalo actually edges them out by two, but it is indeed the top-heavy team.
Start with #1 prospect Austin Martin, fresh off playing in Sunday’s Future’s game. He was building momentum in June before getting hit in the helmet with a pitch on June 24 and missing the next eight days going through concussion protocol. You can’t draw much of a conclusion the six games since but really, there’s a reason he’s #1.
Taking my cue from some of the professional commentary I’ve seen, I bumped up catcher Gabriel Moreno to #3. Given that he’s likely to be on the IL recovering from that thumb injury for more than a month to come, I’m just calling out his name and moving on because you know.
It’s a bit of a slide that Jordan Groshans is #7, but you shouldn’t read that as him having disappointed. For a 21-year-old with a total of 109 professional games, playing at AA, a .751 OPS is fine. It’s not failure, the slide is …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation