Pundits are predicting a big off-season for the Blue Jays (and, honestly, anything less would be a disappointment)

The last week of activity has painted a very clear picture of what this off-season landscape is going to look like across Major League Baseball.

To put it bluntly — teams are going to be cheap.
This, of course, is a reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams lost a whole bunch of money last year because games weren’t played in front of live audiences so nobody bought tickets or hot dogs or merchandise at games. There’s also a good chance that fans won’t be at games next season either.
So, after taking a hit in 2020 and planning to take yet another hit in 2021, most owners aren’t going to be interested in committing major dollars to payroll this winter. Simple math.
In the first week of off-season madness, we’ve seen moves that indicate a very frugal winter.
The Oakland A’s didn’t qualify either Liam Hendriks or Marcus Semien. The risk of having to commit to paying either player the $19 million qualification salary in 2021 was enough of a deterrent for the A’s to let two very good players walk to free agency without any draft pick compensation attached to them at all.
The A’s …

Read More

Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Thoughts on last night’s fittingly bizarre World Series conclusion

The weirdest baseball season of our lives fittingly had a very bizarre ending.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, far and away the best team in baseball this season with their 43-17 record, beat the Tampa Bay Rays by a score of 2-1, winning the World Series four games to two, earning their first championship since 1988.
On paper, it seems like L.A. winning the whole thing was the most predictable outcome — but last night’s conclusion was far from predictable.
Where to begin? I guess I’ll just go chronologically.
It started off when Randy Arozarena clubbed a solo dinger off of Tony Gonsolin to give Tampa Bay an early 1-0 lead. The homer was Arozarena’s 10th of this post-season, which is two more than he has over the course of his regular-season career in 42 games played. Hilariously enough, Arozarena is still eligible for Rookie of the Year in 2021. He’ll look great as an Expo.
It looked like the Rays were going to kick the door in early. Gonsolin looked pretty shook. He allowed a single to Austin Meadows and walked Brandon Lowe but got Manuel Margot and Joey Wendle to work out of the threat. In the second, …

Read More

Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Raptors: Five scariest stats from the 2019-2020 season

Toronto Raptors: Five scariest stats from the 2019-2020 season

The Toronto Raptors had a very good season finishing with the second-best record in the league. But there are five stats that can leave every Raptors fan disappointed. It’s the season when nights are longer, colder, and scarier. Is there a better time to look over the scariest stats of the Toronto Raptors season from […]
Toronto Raptors: Five scariest stats from the 2019-2020 season – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ

The case for trading Nylander is entirely based around one thing

Here at TLN we’re still very much pissed off following the outcome of the qualifying round. And while there is a strong case to be made about the Leafs having an incredibly talented roster, and a forward group that should make Toronto one of the top teams in the league, the fact that they were handled quite easily by an underwhelming Columbus lineup speaks to a need for a change of direction.
Toronto sports fans are naturally going to cite the trading of DeMar DeRozan as a necessary step in putting the Raptors over the top. It certainly worked. And it also hasn’t really held the Raptors back now that DeRozan and Leonard aren’t around. While hockey certainly works differently than basketball, it has made Leafs fans more open to not necessarily treating the top four group as untouchable.
On this site that has meant exploring the idea of trading Mitch Marner, both in the form of ditching Marner, and the argument for keeping him (and essentially the core) around for another year. The results on Marner were again pretty divided when the TLN crew examined who should be on the chopping block. For …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Best Leafs Trades Since 1967 Countdown – No. 4: Luke Schenn fo James van Riemsdyk

Brian Burke’s time in Toronto was very clearly a failure. The team posted a 128-135-42 during his four seasons as the team’s general manager, never coming close to playoff contention.

In hindsight, it was very clear that the Leafs needed a full-on rebuild to overhaul their mediocre roster and no amount of retooling or patchwork could fix what ailed the organization. While Burke’s time in charge will ultimately be looked back as spinning tires in the mud and delaying the inevitable, he actually made quite a few excellent deals that deserve praise.
Burke will always be remembered for his desire to add truculence to the lineup. It was something he spoke about in his first-ever press conference as Leafs’ general manager when he outlined what his plans were for the team. Ironically, some of his best moves were ones that went completely against this mantra.
Burke was officially named general manager in November of 2008, replacing Cliff Fletcher who was running the ship with the interim label after John Ferguson Jr. had been let go in January of that year. After years of mediocre drafting and trading away top picks (like …

Read More

Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

Decision looming on the 24 team playoff format

It seems like the NHL is very close to finalizing what the format for a return to play on 2019-20 season would look like.

Things continue to inch closer on a Return to Play format. Still not done, however. My sense is the league now waiting to hear back from the NHLPA on latest 24-team format tweaks. Expectation is both sides will chat again on this today or tomorrow…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 21, 2020
Now that doesn’t do anything to address where the games will be played, when they would start, what a return of the players would look like, and the thousand other important logistical questions that need to be considered, but it’s a start.
Some of the key details that are know are as follows (via Sportsnet):
The top four seeds (based on points percentage) in the East would be Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia. Top four in the West would be St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas. They would receive byes through the play-in, but participate in a three-game tournament to get some action.
The rest of the playoffs would be “bracketed.” That means, in both conferences 5 vs. 12, 6 vs. 11, 7 …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Nick Robertson is the OHL’s most sportsmanlike player

It could be a very busy awards season for Nick Robertson and today he picked up some new hardware in the form of the William Hanley Trophy for the OHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player.

2020 William Hanley Trophy recipient Nick Robertson’s (@nickrob2001) impressive season included a 14-game goal-scoring streak as the @MapleLeafs prospect lit the lamp a league-leading 55 times for @PetesOHLhockey. pic.twitter.com/4axpNFhqZc
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) May 14, 2020
From the OHL press release:
An 18-year-old product of Northville, Mich., Robertson was within striking distance of a Petes franchise single season goal-scoring record of 63 held by Scott Tottle (1983-84) when the season came to a premature end. He ended the year three goals shy of 100 on his OHL career, owning 174 points (97-77–174) over 162 career regular season games in a Petes uniform after being the club’s first round (16th overall) pick in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection. Robertson was widely recognized in the 2019-20 OHL Coaches Poll, finishing in six different categories including the Eastern Conference’s Most Dangerous in the Goal Area along with Best Shot. He represented the United States in the 2020 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship and was a second round (53rd …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Projecting the Blue Jays’ 2020 Opening Day bullpen

Bullpens are volatile by their very nature, but the cast of characters assembled at Blue Jays spring training might be the most volatile motley crew in recent memory.
Shi Davidi of Sportsnet mentioned this last week during his appearance on Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s “Writer’s Bloc”, but the bridge from the starter to Ken Giles is uncertain for Blue Jays. “I don’t know how they’re going to get the ball on a consistent basis protecting a lead from the starter to Ken Giles at this point,” Davidi said.
Yesterday’s signing of Marc Rzepczynski underscores how the Blue Jays’ bullpen is anything but a finished product.
Other than the aforementioned Giles and Anthony Bass, there are zero relievers who have pitched the last two seasons exclusively out of the bullpen. Sam Gaviglio, Wilmer Font, Thomas Pannone and A.J. Cole were all starters during the 2018 season and some of them picked up starts in 2019.
We’re not talking bona fide shutdown relievers, the Blue Jays have a lot of reclamation projects and recently converted starters-to-relievers on their bullpen depth chart. There are no shortage of …

Read More

Author: Ian Hunter / Blue Jays Nation

Analyzing the Toronto Raptors All-Star weekend performances

The Toronto Raptors were very well represented at this year’s All-Star weekend. How well did they represent Canada’s only team? Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry and Nick Nurse were all representatives for the Toronto Raptors at All-Star weekend in Chicago. Siakam and Nurse were both participating for the first time while Lowry made his sixth straight […]
Analyzing the Toronto Raptors All-Star weekend performances – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Hunter Surphlis / Raptors HQ

Trash-talk Toronto Raptors: Back on track for the Raptors

Welcome back to another very special edition of Trash-talk Toronto Raptors! Here we will discuss everything that happened this week except… basketball. The Toronto Raptors are seemingly back on track. After going nearly a month without consecutive wins, they have finally put together a small winning streak that culminated with a nail biter on Martin […]
Trash-talk Toronto Raptors: Back on track for the Raptors – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Andrew Hughes / Raptors HQ