How Connor Bedard is forcing a trade deadline buyer’s market

How Connor Bedard is forcing a trade deadline buyer’s market

The day after Auston Matthews hit the 500 point mark, I can’t help but reflect on one of the key events that led to the Leafs drafting him. That event was the Phil Kessel trade.
The Kessel trade was largely panned considering the return was Kasperi Kapanen, 1st and 3rd round picks, Scott Harrington, and Nick Spaling. They also had to give up a 2nd, Tim Erixon and Tyler Biggs in the process. This trade was never as bad as it was criticized for being as Spaling, Harrington, Biggs, and Erixon largely cancel each other out, and the 2nd for 3rd is pretty insignificant as well, but Kapanen and a 1st for Kessel was not the ideal return for the franchise player of the moment.
What made up the gap for the Leafs was the benefit of not having Phil Kessel in their lineup. No matter what your opinion is of Phil Kessel, you have to concede that the 2015-16 Leafs had a better chance of picking up a few more wins with him in the Leafs lineup than they did without him. Moving the Leafs up in the standings at all would have taken away Toronto’s shot at Matthews. No Matthews means that Toronto wou …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

MacKinnon could return to Avalanche lineup on Saturday, no changes for Toronto: Leafs practice notes

MacKinnon could return to Avalanche lineup on Saturday, no changes for Toronto: Leafs practice notes

After a 6-3 loss to Arizona on Thursday night, the Maple Leafs got back to work with a practice in Denver before their game vs. the Avalanche on Saturday night.
It was a rough go versus the Coyotes on Thursday — especially for Matt Murray — who allowed four goals against for the fourth time this season. Toronto led 3-2 before Arizona came back, scoring four unanswered goals (two in an empty net).
“You could break it down a lot of different ways, and there’s a lot of different things that happened over 60 minutes. But, it really probably comes down to our inability to kill a penalty,” said Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe in Arizona on Thursday night.
But when it comes to their next game, on New Years Eve game in Colorado, it doesn’t look like any of the Maple Leafs’ lineup is changing.

#Leafs line rushes at practice Dec. 30/22
Bunting-Matthews-NylanderJarnkrok-Tavares-MarnerKerfoot-Kampf-EngvallAstonReese-Holmberg-Hunt Extra: Anderson, Simmonds
Giordano-HollRielly-LiljegrenBrodie-TimminsExtra: Sandin-Benn @BodogCA @RinkWideTOR
— David Alter (@dalter) December 30, 2022

Wayne Simmonds and Joey Anderson are the odd forwards out, as is Rasmus Sandin and Jordie Benn on the back-end.
At this point, there’s really no reason to change the defence pairings. Morgan Rielly is just getting back and needs to find his rhythm. Plus, none of the other defencemen have really offered up a reason to be taken out of the lineup.
I’d say the same goes with the forwards. Anderson did play well when he was in the lineup, but Toronto wants to see what they have with Dryden Hunt. The 27-year-old played pretty good on Thursday night, leading the Maple Leafs with six hits in the game.
There was no word after Friday’s practice about who would start in Toronto’s net on Saturday night.
Both Murray and Ilya Samsonov haven’t had the best showings in their last three games. In fac …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Iowa’s Kris Murray would be an ideal Toronto Raptors draftee

Iowa’s Kris Murray would be an ideal Toronto Raptors draftee

After a 48-win season and Scottie Barnes securing the Rookie of the Year award, the Toronto Raptors were expected to challenge the top teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Instead, the Raptors barely cling to a play-in playoff position at #10 in the East. It’s been a rough start to the season with injuries constantly […]
Iowa’s Kris Murray would be an ideal Toronto Raptors draftee – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

Looking back at Fred McGriff’s Hall of Fame career and the epic trade that he was a part of

After collecting just 169 votes back in 2019 (coming in at 39.8% and well below the 75% threshold), former Blue Jays first baseman Fred McGriff’s chances at making the National Baseball Hall of Fame would have to wait. After ten years on the ballot, McGriff’s opportunity to make it into Cooperstown would have to come via Era committee voting.
That chance came rather quickly, as the Florida product would be named to the Contemporary Era ballot this offseason and yesterday, he was the only member on the ballot elected into the Hall of Fame, receiving votes from every person on the 16-member panel for a unanimous decision.
Known as “Crime Dog”, McGriff was drafted by the New York Yankees back in 1981 and had a 19-year career that he spent with the Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays (x2), the Chicago Cubs, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Through 2460 games, McGriff earned a .284/.377/.509 slash line with a .886 OPS and a 52.6 bWAR. His 493 home runs have him tied at 29th in MLB history with Lou Gehrig, with his 1550 RBI placing him at 47th, flirting with current Hall of Fame members’ tallies. Defensively, McGriff spent most of his time at first base, amassing a .992 fielding percentage through 19402.0 innings.
Fred McGriff is elected to Cooperstown just a day before the anniversary of his trade from the Blue Jays to the San Diego Padres
By the time he retired, McGriff had won a World Series with the Atlanta Braves (1995) while also collecting three Silver Slugger Awards and five All-Star appearances.
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Traded to the B …

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Author: Tyson Shushkewich / Blue Jays Nation

Mike Clevinger’s contract with the White Sox further indicates an expensive free-agent market this winter

After a lull in the baseball world over the past week, we got a pair of signings on Sunday and Monday, as Jose Abreu inked a multi-year contract with the Houston Astros and Mike Clevinger inked a show-me deal with the Chicago White Sox.

This flurry of moves sees the White Sox move on from Abreu, who slashed a .292/.354/.506 line with the team over the course of nine seasons, and add a reclamation project to their starting rotation. Clevinger was moved in a big trade from Cleveland to the San Diego Padres during the 2020 season. He made just four starts with the team and underwent Tommy John surgery and then missed the entirety of the 2021 season.
In his first year back from Tommy John, Clevinger posted a 4.33 ERA over the course of 114 1/3 innings. His fastball velocity hovered around 93.5 miles per hour, a noticeable drop from where it was during his successful seasons in Cleveland. As a result, his strikeout rate dipped to 18.8% in 2022 compared to 27.5% in 2020 and 22.6% in 2019.
Now, why does any of this matter? Because Clevinger’s contract, which has $12 million guaranteed, further indicates just how expensive this winter’s free-agent market is going to be…

$12M is more than I e …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 114: Thoughts on the Mariners, wild-card weekend predictions, and more!

After the long, winding road that was the 2022 season, here we are.

Toronto will host playoff baseball for the first time since 2016 when the Seattle Mariners come to town to play the Blue Jays in a three-game wild-card series.
We talked about the head-to-head between the Blue Jays and Mariners this season and how the two teams stack up in terms of offence and pitching. After that, we talked about who’s primed for a big moment in these playoffs and we made predictions for the entirety of wild-card weekend.
You can listen to the episode here… 
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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Aaron Judge hits home run No. 61 as Yankees spank Blue Jays in series finale

Kevin Gausman said after Monday’s game that he didn’t want to be the answer to a trivia question regarding Aaron Judge’s (potential) 61st home run of the 2022 season. While Gausman avoided that label, there is finally an answer.

That man is Tim Mayza.

61 years since 61.
Aaron Judge has written his name alongside Roger Maris in baseball’s record books. pic.twitter.com/1V4Gums34C
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 29, 2022

Judge battled through an 8 pitch at-bat with Mayza, and eventually deposited a 94 mph sinker into the Blue Jays bullpen. While he has only tied the record for most home runs in a single season, it absolutely sucks that this happened in Toronto. Glass half full, I think we can all look at the silver lining in all of this and be grateful that Zack Hample wasn’t able to collect the home run ball.
Judge also put Roger Maris Jr. out of his misery, as every camera shot of Maris Jr. showed a man who couldn’t wait to be home.
Judge’s legendary moment came amidst some glaring momentum shifts throughout the game. The Yankees were in complete control through the first five innings. Mitch White walked the first two batters he faced en route to allowing three runs in the first inning. He pitched 3.2 innings total, only allowing those three runs, but eight baserunners.
His opposition, Gerrit Cole, cruised through five perfect innings in only 54 pitches, as the Blue Jays only managed to produce two batted ball outs in the air.
It was the sixth inning, however, that Cole imploded and let Toronto right back int …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

Alek Manoah went into Ace Mode on Wednesday

After the Orioles beat the Blue Jays last night, the Sportsnet cameras panned to Alek Manoah sitting in the Blue Jays dugout right after the game. He was starting at the Orioles, watching them celebrate a win. One could only imagine that Manoah was plotting how much he wanted to dominate the Orioles for his start against them on Wednesday night.

Manoah delivered, as he pitched eight innings, only allowing three hits, one run, one walk, and five strikeouts. He allowed the one run in the first inning, but he was almost flawless after that. Manoah retired 14 batters in a row after the Ryan Mountcastle RBI, and he only gave up one hit between innings 2 through 8.
Manoah was the perfect candidate to pitch tonight’s game, after last night featured several dramatic events and the Blue Jays needing a rebound win. He earned his team-leading 14th win of the season, and lowered his ERA to 2.42.
The defense behind him was good as well, including a spectacular play in the bottom of the 3rd by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Adley Rutschman grounded to Guerrero at first, but it threw him off the bag enough for Manoah to cover him at first base. Guerrero flipped the ball behind his back to Manoah at first to complete the out with ease, leading Manoah to shout “That was f*****g sick” at Vladd …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 107: The Dog Days of Summer are over

After an up-and-down month of August (well, months of April, May, June, July, and August, really), the Blue Jays are into September clinging to a playoff spot.

We talked about the series with the Chicago Cubs, which featured some clutch home runs and excellent relief appearances, but also left a sour taste behind as the Blue Jays weren’t able to sweep a weak opponent.
After that, we talked about Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro both doing media rounds during the week and why the timing is a little strange. We also talked about the rosters expanding to 28 in September and what that means for the team.
Finally, we looked ahead to the three-game series in Pittsburgh this weekend and explained why we’re feeling a wee bit nervous despite the fact the Pirates are very bad.
You can listen to the episode here…
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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

That was not Next Level

After going 6-1 on a critical road trip against the Yankees and the Red Sox, the Blue Jays were welcomed home to a 12-0 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels. It was quite the outburst for the Halos, as they had only pushed across seven runs during their previous 12 games.

The first three innings of the game were the big difference tonight. The Angels were able to mix hitting Mitch White pretty hard with some poor Blue Jays defense to score seven runs between the 2nd and 3rd innings.
White escaped a base-loaded jam in the 1st inning (an inning that featured an error from Vladimir Guerrero Jr.), and in search of a quick second inning, he would load the bases once again. With runners on first and second, Andrew Velazquez bunted sharply towards Guerrero. Vladdy fielded the ball, thought about throwing to second or third to get a lead runner, but thought too long, as Velazquez reached first in time before Guerrero could make a decision. Instead of having an out with two runners on, there were no outs and loaded bases.
One batter later, David Fletcher scorched a ball off the fence that would score two runs. Fletcher nearly missed a grand slam by about two feet, as h …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation