Toronto was 38-24 and in first place by six games on June 6, but the Blue Jays have gone 22-26 since then and general manager Alex Anthopoulos did nothing at the trade deadline yesterday.
Several veteran players talked publicly about their unhappiness with the lack of moves, led by closer Casey Janssen telling Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com:
For us not to do anything, most of us had some ideas that we were going to
improve this club a little bit. It’s unfortunate we didn’t. At the same time, we just have to do what we have to do to win games and try to find ways to get into the playoffs. Yes, it was frustrating but we have to play tonight.
I think everyone is just kind of shocked with all the movement that happened and big names going in every direction. … I’ve never seen anything like it, I can’t remember anything like it, that was as crazy as this was and kind of down to the wire as the deadline approached. Like I say, congrats to those teams, they did good.
Star slugger Jose Bautista had a similar but slightly less outspoken take:
Of course it’s a little disappointing that we somehow weren’t able to get anything done, but everybody around us that’s in contention somehow–and even some teams that aren’t in contention, like the Red Sox–somehow figured it out. But there’s still time to get stuff done. We still have a pretty good team put together and we’re hoping to get the guys that are hurt back and that’ll be a good injection of talent for us down the road. … But it’s a little bit of disappointment.
According to various reports Toronto was linked to, among others, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jon Lester, Bartolo Colon, Chris Denorfia, and Alex Rios. And certainly Anthopoulos has shown a willingness to make a big splash in the past, so perhaps Bautista is right that the Blue Jays may yet add some help in August.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.