Our readers provide a vote of confidence for Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe (Reader Poll Part 1)

Before going into any of the results of the reader poll, I want to start by thanking everyone who participated, even those you who hilariously voted for yourselves to be the next GM, and those of you took the time to answer a survey but still felt compelled to write-in “I don’t care” as an answer. You’re the real ones.
I especially want to thank those of you who answered the last question about feedback on TLN. While the answers rolled up to equal a lot of contradictory stuff like more trade speculation vs. less trade speculation, more opinion vs. more reporting, less pessimism vs. and I quote “getting off of Dubas’ dick” there is value in all of that. I want there to be something for everyone and even at times when there is a lot of trade speculation that you can find something else worth your time on this site. I definitely hear you about getting podcasts back in the mix on the site, and we will continue fighting the war against grammatical errors. Thanks again.
Given the number of questions on the poll, we’re going to break this up into three parts, and today we’ll start with …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Good Vibes Only: Talking Ourselves Into Yusei Kikuchi Becoming the Bullpen Ace

Let’s just get this out of the way before we begin. Yusei Kikuchi hasn’t been good at all this season.

In fact, I’d say he’s been pretty awful. Over 83.1 innings pitched, he has a 5.18 ERA and 5.90 FIP with a 13.2 BB%. When you factor in his three-year, $36 million contract (in which he makes $16 million in 2022), things haven’t gone right for him in the slightest.
However, not all hope is lost. Time and time again, I see folks ask how Tampa, Baltimore, and many other teams can find random dudes who become bullpen aces. Well, one of the best ways to find these random dudes is by converting failed starters into relievers.
Let’s look at some of the better relievers in baseball. Edwin Diaz? Started as a starter. Jordan Romano? Started as a starter. Liam Hendricks? You guessed it, started as a starter. Josh Hader was also a starter. Even the best closer in MLB history, the only player to be unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame, Mariano Rivera, was a starter.
When Kikuchi pitches out of the pen, will he be anything like any of these guys? More than likely, no. However, let’s discuss Hader as they have some similarities.
Hader made 95 starts over five years in the Orioles, Astros, and Brewers system, before sticking in the majors as a reliever in 2017. He started 14 games in Triple A …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Pierre Engvall has signed a one-year extension with the Leafs

Mere moments before the salary arbitration deadline, Pierre Engvall has signed an extension with the Leafs.

We’ve signed forward Pierre Engvall to a one-year contract extension.#LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 17, 2022

The new contract pays him $2.25 million for the 2022-23 season, a nice pay raise given he is coming off a two-year deal that had a $1.25 million AAV.
Today was the deadline for RFAs with the option to file for arbitration could apply for one. Had Engvall decided to go this route, it would have established a hearing date for when he and the Leafs would debate over what the player should be paid and have that decided by a third-party arbitrator.
Avoiding this route entirely rids the team and Engvall of the pressure, meaning now the Leafs only have to worry about getting Rasmus Sandin’s contract sorted out since he is the last RFA they need to sign.
Engvall is coming off his breakout season where he set career highs all across the board with 15 goals, 20 assists, and 35 points, good enough for eighth on the team in scoring. He also added on three assists in seven playoff games, although all of them came in Game 3 against the Lightning. In addition, he posted some impressive underlying metrics all across the board at 5v5.
It was an impressive season that catapulted him to become one of the Leafs’ most important secondary scoring options and an integral part of the team’s future. Given that two-thirds of what made up a dominant third line made their departure in free agency, (Ilya Mikheyev and Ondrej Kase) getting Engvall to an extension was of the utmost importance and getting it done right at the deadline was a close call. Now the question remains who will be joining him and David Kampf to make up for the revamped third line.
As a result of Engvall’s contract, the Leafs are now $1.5 million over the salary cap heading into the 2022-23 season with 13 forwards, seven defencemen, and two goalies. A trade is almost certainly going to come in the weeks ahead that will clear up the necessary cap space to get Sandin’s contract done and add a top-six forward to the mix since improving the John Tavares line remains a top priority. (perhaps Nino Niederreiter or Sonny Milano)
Best of what’s left: pooper scooping free agency for the Leafs
Kyle Dubas’ summer is far from over, but he got a key piece under contract for next season. Now the focus shifts to their 2018 first-round pick and his new extension.
Stats from Hockey-Reference.com and Natural Stat Trick.
Salary information from PuckPe …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

It’s Time to Fire Charlie Montoyo (Next Week)

In this space in August of 2019, way back in the before times, I wrote an article advocating for the Blue Jays to move on from Charlie Montoyo.

You can go ahead and read it if you’d like, but the gist of it was that Montoyo was a truly awful tactical manager that wasn’t only costing the team victories, but was also leading to players getting hurt. I felt those deficiencies in his style were not worth whatever intangible positives he brought to the clubhouse with his mentorship and vibes, for a lack of a better term. The Blue Jays front office clearly disagreed, as, much to the chagrin of many fans, Montoyo is still around.
I believe the time has come for this conversation to happen again. Ironically, I think Montoyo has drastically improved his in-game management since 2019. The number of mind-boggling moves that he is responsible for nowadays is much smaller than it was previously, and I would even go as far as saying that he has had numerous games this season where he has managed perfectly. Another complaint you often heard about him was that he didn’t stick up for his team enough when umpires were costing them games, and he has also corrected that flaw, getting ejected often this year to the point where he is giving John Gibbons a run for his money.
He’s made great strides and has worked on his weaknesses, to the poin …

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Author: Gideon Turk / Blue Jays Nation