Under Further Review –
Bo Knows Hitting – Can you believe the torrid start that Bo Bichette is fashioning to begin his MLB career? What he is doing is nothing short of astonishing. He already has 13 extra base hits, becoming the first rookie since the great Ted Williams in 1939 to record an extra-base hit in nine straight games. That friends is rarified air! Bichette has already set franchise marks for longest hit streak to begin a career, highest OPS and most hits in a player’s first 10 career games.
The 21-year-old also set a franchise mark for most consecutive games with a double at eight, passing Carlos Delgado’s previous mark of seven. That’s also the longest doubles streak across the majors since Yadier Molina had an eight-game run in 2016. The kid can rake! Along with Vladdy Jr. and Lourdis Gurriel Jr., who just became the youngest Blue Jay to hit the 30-home run mark, the Jays have some exciting franchise cornerstones to build around.
Knives are Out – The heat is turned up all the way in the Blue Jays executive suite. As the trade deadline passed, the debut of Aaron Sanchez in Houston only served to add fuel to the proverbial fire. Head suit Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins are under heavy fire from Jays faithful for the perceived lack of return from numerous trade deadline sell-offs.
Sanchez combined with three other pitchers including former Jay Joe Biagini on a no-hitter in his first Astros start versus the moribund Seattle Mariners. Sanchez threw six solid innings and picked up his first win after 13 consecutive losses with the Blue Jays. Meanwhile, outfielder Derek Fisher, the player acquired from Houston in the Sanchez deal, misjudged a fly ball and took it square in the face, opening up a golf ball-sized welt under his eye. Fortunately, no fracture but the optics were not good.
Shapiro is doing what he does best and that’s trying to control the message. He wants to change the conversation and focus on the future. Check out this great article from Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi.
Lovable Losers – If you think the Blue Jays stink this year, you should be happy you are not a Seattle Mariners fan. How bad are they? Well, they can’t hit, they can’t pitch and they can’t catch the ball. They have the whole enchilada going!
The M’s have given up 10 or more runs 20 times. They have used 37 pitchers this season which is an all-time record. They have also used 25 position players. The 62 players used overall is also a new MLB record.
The Houston Astros have absolutely bludgeoned the Mariners this season, winning 12 of 13, outscoring the M’s 76 to 47. It would look worse because the M’s scored 14 runs in one of those games.
And it gets worse. The Mariners lead the majors in whiffs. They struck out 15 times last Sunday against the Astros and recently had 45 strikeouts over a 4-game stretch. They have struck out 1,115 times in 115 games. So much for their much-ballyhooed desire to ‘control the zone.’ They have been no-hit twice in a little over a month and also just avoided a third no-hit game earlier this week. Oh yes, Seattle also leads the majors in errors with 106, 23 more than the Dodgers. That’s just bad baseball. Can’t pitch. Can’t hit. Can’t field. They’re the complete package.
Seahawks Notebook – The meaningless pre-season kicked off for the Seahawks on Thursday night with a 22-14 win over the Denver Broncos. Numerous veterans were held out including Russell Wilson. This is shaping up to be a bumper crop of rookies for the Seahawks. As many as 10 of this year’s draft class could make the team or be kept around on the reserve list. First round pick L.J. Collier, who was counted on to be part of the defensive line rotation, is out with an ankle injury and he may not have much of an impact this year. Both of the second rounder’s, safety Marquis Blair and the fleet wide-out DK Metcalf, looked like impact rookies in the exhibition opener. Linebacker Cody Barton, a teammate of Blair’s at Utah, is already a Pete Carroll favorite and should be a big contributor.
The rookie class will have the biggest impact on special teams where the Seahawks fell off measurably last year. Seattle has always taken great pride in their special teams but that was not an area of strength last year. Kicker Jason Myers should be a big weapon this year along with punter Michael Dickson who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. As many as seven or eight of the rookies will be counted on to improve the overall performance of the special teams.
Trouble in Big D – If you are a Dallas Cowboys fan, and there are plenty of them out there, be prepared for some impending doom. The Cowpokes have numerous contract issues on the horizon and it could tear the team apart. What makes things doubly difficult, is they have a young quarterback in Dak Prescott who is coming out of his rookie contract and the Cowboys will have to fork out upwards of $30 million per season to get him extended. The trouble is – is Dak worth that kind of money? He’s good but how good? $30 million a year good? Don’t forget, he’s not exactly the most accurate quarterback around. Everything changes when franchise quarterbacks coming out of rookie deals have to get paid. The effect on the salary cap is huge and it ripples all the way down through the roster.
Then you have the mercurial Ezekiel Elliott who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Do you give him Todd Gurley money? No chance! Elliott is one of three key Cowboys holding out and it could be a long one. The Cowboys are in no rush to shower him with greenbacks because poor Zeke has no bargaining power.
It makes no sense for Elliott to sit out the whole season because it would have no impact on his contract situation. His contract would “toll,” meaning the $3.853 million he is scheduled to earn this year would become his 2020 salary, and the $9.099 million he is scheduled to earn in 2020 would become his 2021 salary. He would end up right back where he started.
I still think the two sides get something done and the Cowboys may even have to exceed the four-year, $57.5 million dollar extension given to Gurley last summer by the Rams. However, it may not get done until just before the start of the regular season.
The Cowboys also have to deal with receiver Amari Cooper and defensive stars Jaylon Smith, Byron Jones and Maliek Collins. Meanwhile, star defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is on the Physically Unable to Perform List while defensive end Robert Quinn was just handed a two-game suspension for a masking agent covering up PED use. The Cowboys haven’t had this kind of roster depth since the early 1990’s but it comes at a price.
Just don’t expect the Cowboys to come charging out of the gate.
Leftovers – What an incredible performance from rookie Ottawa return man DeVonte Dedmon. He led the RedBlacks to a wild 30-27 overtime win over Montreal last week in setting a new club record with 377 combined return yards including a pair of touchdowns. Dedmon’s sensational day was highlighted by a 111-yard kickoff return. If that wasn’t enough, Ottawa kicker Lewis Ward extended his league record field goal mark to 67 with the winning kick in overtime.
Antonio Brown is already making quite the impression in the Oakland Raiders camp. He arrived in camp in a hot air balloon, then proceeded to severely damage his feet in a cryogenic chamber. He was diagnosed with frostbite and is probably going to miss a good portion of camp while the blisters on his feet heal.
Have you noticed the Tampa Bay Lightning’s infatuation with former New York Rangers? Count em’. Over the past several years, the Lightning have acquired Dan Girardi, J.T. Miller, Anton Stralman, Ryan McDonagh and Ryan Callahan from the Blueshirts. Not sure what the deal is there.
Whatever happened to Eugenie Bouchard? She was unceremoniously bounced from the first round of the Rogers Cup by fellow Canadian Bianca Andreescu and is now out of the top 100 in the women’s world tennis rankings. It’s Anna Kournikova all over again.
Anyone who follows this blog knows I am an unabashed supporter of Canadians and Canadian teams on the international scene. I never get tired of seeing Canadians excel at the highest level of competition. That’s why it was so frustrating to see so many Canadian NBA stars cop out of the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup in China which serves as an Olympic qualifier, something Canada has not done since 2000 and the halcyon days of Steve Nash.
Now that’s Talent – And we leave you this week with a performance for the ages. You don’t find talent like this easily!