Toronto Raptors: 3 players who could earn spots on 2021 roster in April and May

Toronto Raptors: 3 players who could earn spots on 2021 roster in April and May

The Toronto Raptors are expected to clean house in the offseason, both to take advantage of the cap space they could potentially be privy to and to wipe away the stench of one of the unluckiest seasons in NBA history. The last few games of this season will be used for development rather than contention. […]
Toronto Raptors: 3 players who could earn spots on 2021 roster in April and May – 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: Two promising players could be cut to create more cap room in 2021-22 offseason

Toronto Raptors: Two promising players could be cut to create more cap room in 2021-22 offseason

The Toronto Raptors appear to be headed for a transformative offseason. In addition to the trade of Norman Powell that likely locked in Gary Trent Jr. as a long-term piece, Kyle Lowry appears to be on his way out after nearly a decade north of the border. After seeing players like Paul Watson and DeAndre’ […]
Toronto Raptors: Two promising players could be cut to create more cap room in 2021-22 offseason – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Let’s take a look at the free agents who haven’t signed yet

This off-season has moved at a glacial pace.

The marquee players — George Springer, D.J. LeMahieu, J.T. Realmuto, and Trevor Bauer — didn’t sign contracts until the calendar flipped to 2021, and, even with Spring Training right around the corner, multiple other interesting names are still floating around without jobs.
Mark Shapiro’s vague words about how the Blue Jays are finished with “heavy lifting” but have room to “be creative” has left us speculating what the front office might do before the start of the 2021 season, especially when it comes to the team’s underwhelming starting rotation.
It’s impossible to dig into the bevy of possible trades that might be out there (like, nobody saw the Steven Matz deal coming) but we can take a dive into the remaining free agents and figure out who would make the most sense for the Blue Jays to add.
Based on MLB Trade Rumours’ invaluable Top-50 Free Agents With Predictions list, 10 of the 50 players named are still without contracts…

11. Jake Odorizzi
In my mind, Odorizzi is the strongest starting pitcher still out there. The Blue Jays were among the teams interested in signing him last winter after a breakout season with …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Rigid in Their Ways, the Blue Jays Will Still Be Fine

It has been a demoralizing off-season thus far for Blue Jays fans.

Hyped up by the words of Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins in October and November – that the Blue Jays will add, and add significantly – watching the Padres and Mets get better while the rest of baseball stagnates has been difficult.
Even the most rational of observers will admit that despite a litany of ways to improve still available, finishing in second place for Kevin Gausman, Ha-Seong Kim, Tomoyuki Sugano, and seemingly Francisco Lindor as well, will take its toll. But despite all of those near-misses, it’s important to realize that the Blue Jays will be fine.
The whispers from the Blue Jays camp are that they still believe the end result of this off-season will be one that impresses the fans, and until it is too late for that to happen, we have no choice but to believe them. But how is that going to be done? How are they going to finally get people to start accepting the money they are offering?
The Shapiro and Atkins group has always been very rigid in the way they do business. Together with their scouting, player development, and analytics …

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Author: Gideon Turk / Blue Jays Nation

First look at the Leafs’ revamped defensive unit

First look at the Leafs’ revamped defensive unit

It was a transformational offseason for a much maligned Leafs blue line that saw the departures of Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci, but Kyle Dubas and his staff are hoping that the additions of TJ Brodie, Zach Bogosian, and Mikko Lehtonen will make for a more reliable back end this coming season. The extended offseason brought plenty of speculation as to where the new pieces would fit in and what it might mean for returning players like Justin Holl and Travis Dermott, as well as top prospect Rasmus Sandin.
After Sheldon Keefe revealed the team’s initial forward lines during his first media availability of training camp on Sunday afternoon, the revamped defensive pairings were announced on Monday morning as the Leafs took to the ice for their first practice of training camp.

Group 1 @MapleLeafs practice lines and defensive pairings for January 4:
Thornton−Matthews−MarnerVesey−Tavares−NylanderMikheyev−Kerfoot−HymanBarabanov−Spezza−Simmonds
Rielly−BrodieMuzzin−HollLehtonen−BogosianSandin−Dermott
AndersenCampbell #LeafsForever
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) January 4, 2021

As expected, Morgan Rielly will get the first crack at playing alongside Toronto’s biggest offseason acquisition in TJ Brodie. If this pairing does indeed stick into the season, Brodie will easily be the best regular partner that …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Staturday Weekly Column #4: 2020-21 Leafs Roster Improvements by Goals Above Replacement Model

Kyle Dubas went into this offseason with a ‘no holds barred’ mandate of getting this team over the hump in this upcoming season. Using short-term contracts to veterans, low-cost contracts to the team’s young RFAs, and new contracts to exciting European talent, the Leafs’ roster appears to have improved significantly. We’re ever so close to seeing this new team in action, so it’s gotten me curious to see the significance of these transactions.
To answer the question of “how significant?”, we can use the Goals Above Replacement model developed by EvolvingHockey that we discussed in an earlier edition of Staturday.
Basically, EvolvingHockey put a bunch of statistics into a box, and figured out how many goals that would be worth, relative to what a “replacement level” player (i.e. a call-up from the minors just filling in) could do.
As a manager, Kyle Dubas will be hoping that each of his players has a positive Goals Above Replacement (GAR) season in 2021. But we don’t just have to hope; we can actually attempt to predict whether this will happen or not.
See, EvolvingHockey also developed an Expected Goals Above Replacement (xGAR) model to predict the results of …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Rodion Amirov is the Leafs’ 3rd ranked prospect

The Leafs entered this offseason with a prospect cupboard that was beginning to look rather bare, and were without a first round pick for the second consecutive year. With the Leafs tight against the salary cap and in need of some retooling, Kyle Dubas struck while the iron was hot and made a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins centered around Kasperi Kapanen. The Leafs acquired multiple assets for the speedy young winger, but the biggest piece coming back to Toronto was the 15th overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft.
There was plenty of speculation leading up to the draft regarding whether Toronto would trade the newly acquired pick for immediate help, or stand pat and add an exciting new prospect to their organization. Dubas took the decision down to the final moment and when the clock ran out, the Leafs announced the selection of Russian forward Rodion Amirov.
The Leafs’ most recent first round pick makes his debut on our list at number three and is the first prospect in our countdown to receive an “A” grade from TheLeafsNation’s team of voters, putting him in a tier above the rest of the names we’ve seen to this point …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

The Vancouver Canadians could still remain a Blue Jays affiliate

Earlier this off-season, word came out that the Vancouver Canadians, one of the Blue Jays’ short-season rookie ball affiliates, would be becoming a minor-league affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

Shortly after, though, Mark Shapiro said that the report about the Canadians and Blue Jays parting ways wasn’t factual.
“Major League Baseball has been overwhelmed with the amount of variables they’ve had to deal with this year and the timing on a minor league plan for next year,” Shapiro said. “Although we’ve got some loose insight, but we haven’t gotten a firm answer on what that’s going to look like. I think an understanding that it’s going to be a reduced number of teams, that short-season baseball is certainly not going to be the same.
What we do know is that a big part of MLB’s slashing of the minor leagues has to do with getting rid of short-season ball and increasing focus on having newly-drafted players go to instructional camps.
Over at Ballpark Digest, there’s a huge list that’s keeping track of which teams and leagues are getting chopped and which affiliates are moving around to accommodate these changes. It has …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Raptors: Expectations for Raptors in 2020/21 season

Toronto Raptors: Expectations for Raptors in 2020/21 season

The NBA off-season for 2020 has almost run its course, and the Toronto Raptors appear weaker as a roster from the event. The 2020/21 season maybe the Raptors’ worst since 34 wins in 2012/13. Perhaps the COVID-19 pandemics’ economic effects have forced the Toronto Raptors‘ ownership group to consider limiting their financial commitments beyond 2021. […]
Toronto Raptors: Expectations for Raptors in 2020/21 season – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

Seven former Blue Jays are on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot

With this off-season trudging along at a glacial pace, we finally have something baseball-related to talk and argue about. The 2021 Hall of Fame ballot!

Here’s a look at the ballot, courtesy of the indispensable Hall of Fame vote tracker Ryan Thibodaux…

There are seven former Blue Jays on the ballot, three of whom are new additions this season. The new guys are Mark Buehrle, LaTroy Hawkins, and A.J. Burnett, while the returnees are Roger Clemens, Omar Vizquel, Scott Rolen, and Jeff Kent.
Obviously, none of these players would be wearing Blue Jays caps if they were to get inshrined in Cooperstown but it’s an interesting discussion regardless.
I imagine that Clemens will eventually get in as the world sort of gets over being weirdly mad about the steroid era. Rocket Roger got 61 percent of votes last year, just 14 percent shy of making the cut. This is his ninth year on the ballot so it either happens this year or in 2022 or he’ll have to get in via the Veterans Committee.
Vizquel is another one who’s going to get eventually mostly due to his longevity and the fact he won 11 gold gloves. Kent has been passed …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation