Raptors demoting Christian Koloko amid defensive struggles is inexcusable

Raptors demoting Christian Koloko amid defensive struggles is inexcusable

The Toronto Raptors don’t have a ton to smile about this season, but the terrific play of rookie big man Christian Koloko has been one of the few silver linings the team can hold their head high about. Koloko has been one of the best second-round picks in the 2023 class. Koloko is averaging just […]
Raptors demoting Christian Koloko amid defensive struggles is inexcusable – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

The Deal that Toronto Needs to Get Done Before Opening Day

I was already thinking about this column for the last couple of weeks before Scott & Adam brought it up last week but I’m going to write it anyway.

With the “other shoe” having dropped in major fashion on Friday, the shape of the 2023 Blue Jays’ roster has largely come into focus, whether or not one feels the need to add a 4th outfielder (ironically, the guy who’s an ideal fit for that role is one Randal Grichuk – we’re paying him anyway! – wonder if they’d send him back for Trent Thornton or Trevor Richards?) or just let Merrifield and Biggio take up that slack. But that doesn’t mean there’s not some housekeeping to see to.
It’s true that everyone is jonesing for the Jays to work out long-term deals for Vlad and Bo, and some even suggest Alek Manoah (which seems a little premature to me) but there’s another player closing in on free agency, the one remaining key player who has just one season of control left, that needs attention first: Matt Chapman. I’m prepared to argue that if they can by any reasonable means avoid letting him hit the market, it should be as of now their top focus for the rest of this off-season. Of course, this discussion immediately provokes the question – at what cost? Well, that’s a tricky question – let’ …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

Trading up for Thompson twins in 2023 draft may fix Raptors offensive woes

Trading up for Thompson twins in 2023 draft may fix Raptors offensive woes

The Toronto Raptors are always thinking about the NBA Draft, but fans need to prepare for the possibility of this team getting dispatched in the play-in tournament and ending up with a lottery pick. While this would be immeasurably disappointing, Toronto needs to recognize how much a young scoring talent is needed. The NBA has […]
Trading up for Thompson twins in 2023 draft may fix Raptors offensive woes – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Where Does Alek Manoah Stand Among Baseball’s Elite?

Back in July, I wrote about the similarities between Alek Manoah and Sandy Alcantara and how Manoah can use that blueprint to improve in the future. Now, nearly four full months later, Manoah’s first full season in MLB has come to a close. How did Manoah do in the last few months of the year, and where does he stand moving forward? Strap in. It’s time for a deep dive.

We’re not going to start with baseball. They say talk is cheap, but Alek sure gets his money’s worth. During his appearance on former Raptor Serge Ibaka’s show, “How Hungry Are You?”, Manoah called AL East rival Gerrit Cole the “worst cheater in baseball”, then went on to briefly discuss illegal substances, which he says Cole uses. His comments definitely didn’t go unnoticed by Yankees fans, who brought out their Twitter fingers to let Manoah know what they thought about him as a pitcher.

Alek Manoah’s ERA being over 3.5 next season is going to feed families man https://t.co/NRy46cqMQJ
— Ryan Garcia (In the Lab) (@RyanGarciaESM) November 21, 2022

It’s the offseason though, so Manoah had time for some Twitter fingers of his own, firing back with some emojis…

— MANOAH (@Alek_Manoah6) November 22, 2022

Talk may be cheap. But despite what Yankee fans may think, Alek Manoah’s next contract won’t be. Let’s get into the pitching, and take a look at Alek Manoah’s season by month.

With an ERA of 2.24 before I wrote my previous piece, and a 2.25 mark afterwards, Manoah was nearly exactly as good before and after. He certainly wasn’t on Sandy Alcantara’s Cy Young level, but he played incredibly well. His Fielding Independent Pitching, which takes defence out of the equation, hung higher than his ERA, but e …

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Author: Tate Kispech / Blue Jays Nation

Off-season departures: Former goalies continue their struggles, Ilya Mikheyev finding success in top-six role

Off-season departures: Former goalies continue their struggles, Ilya Mikheyev finding success in top-six role

At the beginning of November, I wrote about six former Maple Leafs and how they have been performing with the new teams that they either signed with in the off-season or in Petr Mrazek’s case, got traded to in the off-season.
From guys like Jack Campbell with the Oilers to Colin Blackwell with the Blackhawks, I went over all six players, how they played in the month of November, as well as their season totals through the season’s first two months.

 
1. Jack Campbell – EDM – 30 years old – G
November 2022 stats: 6 GP – 3-3-0 – 4.16 GAA – .863 SV% – 0 SO
2022-23 stats: 12 GP – 7-5-0 – 4.04 GAA – .875 SV% – 0 SO
Contract: 5 years x $5M
Just like the month of October, the month of November wasn’t good for Jack Campbell, and after signing that big five-year contract as a free agent to join the Oilers in the off-season, it’s safe to say Campbell hasn’t been able to live up to that price tag and its kind of concerning if you ask me.
Back at the start of November, I said he would be able to snap out of the poor stretch of games, and so far, it looks like I’m wrong because this hasn’t been just a poor stretch of games, it has be …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

Timothy Liljegren is determined, confident and impacting the Leafs already

Timothy Liljegren is determined, confident and impacting the Leafs already

It took about two shifts of Timothy Liljegren’s first AHL game with the Toronto Marlies this season to prove he was ready to step back up to the big club.
He was dominant with the puck, forcing Syracuse to make mistake after mistake and looked like a proven veteran. That’s what you’d expect from someone that played 61 NHL games the year before. And after a successful two-game conditioning stint, Liljegren was back with the Leafs for his first game on Saturday against Boston. Coach Sheldon Keefe eased him in – he had some moments in his first two games, but he wasn’t all there just yet. The AHL is one thing – everyday NHL action after a six-month layoff is another.
But Liljegren’s performance on Tuesday against Vegas – a two-goal night against one of the best teams and one of the best goalies – showed be was TRULY back. Liljegren had never scored twice in a game during his NHL career, but he looked like as confident and strong with the puck as ever. And after the mess of a start to the year it has been for Toronto’s blueline, mainly due to injuries, it’s a welcome sight. The Leafs ultimately lost 4-3 in overtime, …

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Author: Steven Ellis / The Leafs Nation

Checking in on Blue Jays players playing in the Dominican Winter League

The great thing about baseball is that it’s a year round sport, even if Major League Baseball ends in a week.

The Dominican Winter League (LIDOM) and Mexican Pacific Winter League are in full swing now, so how are Jays players doing for their respective teams? Let’s look at a former top 100 prospect to begin.
Nate Pearson:
After pitching in the big leagues in 2020 and 2021, Nate Pearson missed all of the 2022 season. First by contracting mononucleosis, then suffering a lat strain in a rehab game. The story of his career thus far has been injuries, but unlucky injuries. No better example of this than getting hit with a comebacker at the start of the 2018 minor league season, which broke his ulna (forearm).
To get innings, Pearson headed to the Dominican Republic to play for the Tigres de Licey. In his five innings, he hasn’t allowed an earned run, while owning a 25 K% and a 6.25 BB%. Pearson has been used mainly as a high-leverage reliever which is a good sign.
I think as the years go by, his ceiling leans more toward a high-leverage reliever, rather than a starter or a bulk reliever. Although some may argue that Pearson becoming a reliever may “lessen” his value, having a guy throwing 100 mph out of the bullpen is super important.
It will be interesting to see the organization’s plan for the 26-year-old righty heading into his eighth season with the team.
Rainer Nunez:
Rainer Nunez is the only other Blue …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Things got heated as the Orioles beat the Blue Jays 9-6 on Tuesday

You wanted a Blue Jays win tonight? How about some ejections, cleared benches, and Yusei Kikuchi getting meaningful innings in September?

Aside from a Blue Jays win, all of the above were present as Toronto dropped the third game of a four-game set to the Orioles 9-6. Aside from Bo Bichette hitting his fourth home run in two games, this one was pretty ugly for the Jays.

“Go win something” https://t.co/efmByDU6va pic.twitter.com/rKyHhAgKX1
— Lewis (@JaysKid_RHP) September 7, 2022

Toronto was plagued early on by a rough start from Mitch White. White’s first two innings were quick and efficient, but his third inning turned into a disaster. With Toronto already ahead 3-0, White walked Rougned Odor and Jorge Mateo, as well as hit Cedric Mullins to load the bases with no one out.
From there, the Orioles would record an RBI from four of their next five batters, storming ahead 5-3. White never got out of the third, as his final line stood at 2 and 1/3 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 3 BB, and 2 Ks. His ERA is now 5.09, way above his ERA from when we joined the team (3.70). It is also now the third straight outing that White has given up at least five runs.
The Jays got three scoreless innings between Julian Merryweather and Anthony Bass to keep things afloat, as an RBI double from Chapman cut the Orioles’ lead to one at 5-4. With one out in the sixth, however, John Schneider oddly went to Yusei Kikuchi. It went…about how you think it went, as Kikuchi allowed a run in two-thirds of an inning of work.
The Jays got that run back in the top of the 7th, as Bo Bichette came into score from a Teoscar Hernandez double play, making it 6-5. Despite this, it still begs the question: Why was Kikuchi in that situation when Anthony Bass only threw 7 pitches? 
Sparks flew at the end of the inning, as B …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs trade down to 38th in order to dump Mrazek’s toxic contract

Let’s call this something you hate to see. About three hours into draft coverage with players like Brad Lambert still on the board, the Leafs opt to trade away their 25th overall pick in order to rid themselves of Petr Mrazek’s $3.8M AAV cap hit.
Mrazek will go to Chicago and the Leafs will pick 38th. Obviously no salary was retained by the Leafs in this deal.
With cap space being a premium asset and the Leafs very much living in the now and not the future, the Leafs pulled the trigger on a deal that can only be described as disappointing and given that Mrazek was a Dubas acquisition, a bad situation that sits solely with the current Leafs regime.
The good news in this is that there should still be a very good player available at pick number 38 and now the Leafs have some more flexibility to build out their roster, although more work can still be done there as the Holl, Kerfoot, and Muzzin contracts are still options that will hopefully be explored tomorrow.
The biggest disappointment probably comes from committing over three hours to Sportsnet’s draft coverage and knowing it was just to see the Leafs clear some salary. Toronto will now pick three times to …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation