Try not to tear up as Yuta Watanabe says goodbye to Raptors

Try not to tear up as Yuta Watanabe says goodbye to Raptors

The nature of the NBA means that teams like the Toronto Raptors often have to say goodbye to fan favorites to get cheaper alternatives. Yuta Watanabe made himself a marquee attraction when he was on the floor, but Toronto thought it was time to say goodbye. With youngsters like Christian Koloko arriving via the NBA […]
Try not to tear up as Yuta Watanabe says goodbye to Raptors – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Toronto Raptors 2022-23 season preview: SF Otto Porter Jr.

Toronto Raptors 2022-23 season preview: SF Otto Porter Jr.

Historically, the Toronto Raptors are not a team that is going to spend a ton of money in free agency. In spite of their past desire to lay low in the offseason, the Raptors went and splashed the cash and nabbed Otto Porter Jr. away from the reigning champion Golden State Warriors. Porter was a […]
Toronto Raptors 2022-23 season preview: SF Otto Porter Jr. – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Weekend Rambling: The 2023 Offence

Am I the only one who thinks it’s weird that baseball doesn’t have an ideal term for the non-pitcher part of the roster? You can say “the fielders” but there’s also a DH, you can say “the lineup” but there are bench players, you can say “the offence” but almost every player has to be considered on the defensive spectrum as well. Anyway, you get the idea.

As the third and final installment of this mini-series, this one has a lot of just stating the obvious, the same way I did with the top three starting pitchers, but also a maybe surprising amount of caveats and qualifications to anything that you might want to firmly declare. But we need a starting place, so let me go with this: while this offense could certainly use some tweaks and no team, particularly a contender, simply rolls over the same basic roster from one season to the next, let’s not misunderstand a core truth here – this team is GOOD.
As a group, you can look at both team results and also go position by position. While it’s true that offence is down some from the year before in many cases, it is like that across the league (T …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

The long road to a Sandin contract seems necessary for both the player and the Leafs

There is one significant piece of business that seemingly needs to be taken care of before training camp and that’s the signing of Rasmus Sandin. Potentially there will be fallout requiring some salary to be moved as well, but expecting the Leafs to move salary prior to having a contract in place is unlikely. For all the trade Kerfoot and Holl takes we’ve produced over the summer, we are clearly at the point where they are staying put until Sandin is under contract. We’ll start with that.
If we look at when the Sandin saga truly began, it started back on June 27th with the signing of Timothy Liljegren to a 2 year deal at $1.4M AAV. A very fair deal considering how Liljegren performed, but one specifically inline with how he performed and with the bridge deal there was an assumption that the Leafs aren’t paying for potential, the true payday has that two years from now timestamp on it. Given that Sandin’s numbers are very much in the same ballpark as Liljegren’s it was assumed that the plan was similar for both players. Sandin doing what he did at a slightly younger age and having a perceived higher upside than Liljegren …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

A spike in the salary cap in 2024-25 is a dream scenario for the Leafs

One of the things that seem to constantly be holding the Leafs back is an absence of cap space to improve the team through free agency and trades. Kyle Dubas not being able to predict a global pandemic and signing a core to significant contracts right before was unfortunate and while no one can blame Dubas for not seeing COVID coming, there’s something to be said for signing deals that are reliant on the salary cap moving in favourable manner.
Now that I’ve said that, the cap is going up again, so all the Leafs problems are solved, right?
Via the 32 Thoughts Podcast NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly suggested that the salary cap could spike as early as the 2024-25 season:
I’ve seen some preliminary estimates recently which would make me more optimistic on the cap going up sooner whether that’s in two seasons or three seasons, I think it’s more likely than not two seasons rather than three.
Honestly, this seems like a reasonable expectation given the absolute flurry of gambling money being thrown at the league at the moment. Gambling plus the introduction of jersey ads, the U.S. television deals, and the addition of the 32nd team to the league should have the NHL exceeding their performance of the pre-COVID seasons, and with all due respect to angry people, that income will more than offset the Coyotes going from 11,000 people in attendance to 5,000.
If you are worried that it w …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays continue success at Fenway Park in 9-3 rout of Red Sox

In an AL East that is currently clogged by the New York Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays, and now the competitive Baltimore Orioles, it feels good to have a team in the division to beat down on. The Blue Jays have found the Boston Red Sox to be this team, especially when it comes to playing at Fenway Park. An 8-run third inning set the tone for the series as Toronto blew out Boston 9-3 in the first of a three game set on Tuesday night.
Boston struck first as they took a 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning off of Blue Jays starter Ross Stripling; Kike Hernandez’ RBI single would cash in a lead off double from Christian Arroyo. However, from there, Stripling would not allow much more trouble, as he added another quality start to a fabulous season. In all, Stripling would go six innings, giving up six hits, one run, one walk, and striking out six. It was only Stripling’s second start since coming off of the injured list, and maybe reaching 86 pitches tonight helps him feel stretched out for longer outings in the near future.
The big story of the night was the top of the 3rd inning, in which the B …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

TLN Prospect #5: Fraser Minten brings potential and projectability to the Leafs

Ahead of the draft, I was of the belief that the Leafs should be targeting more NHL projectability with their early picks rather than just swinging on higher upside prospects who provided less certainty in their overall projections. Last year’s selection of Matt Knies in the second round – a player with a relatively safe floor who still possessed some offensive upside – was a step in that direction, and the early returns have certainly exceeded expectations.
The Leafs went in a similar direction with their first pick of the 2022 draft after trading out of the first round, and while it was a bit of a reach in relation to most public draft rankings, the selection of Fraser Minten at 38th overall also offered an intriguing balance of potential and projectability.
One of the youngest players in the draft, Minten was a bit of a late riser in the lead-up to the draft, at least in terms of the buzz surrounding his name. Still, he went off the board much earlier than many were expecting, and the Leafs stood pat to select him rather than taking the chance and trading down again, illustrating the organization’s belief in the player.
Given Minten’s age, his already solid base of skills, and the fact that he has only been playing high-level hockey for a relatively short time, Kyle Dubas and the rest of the Leafs’ front office belie …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid-Season Prospect Countdown: The Players Who Just Missed The Top 60 List

It’s that time of year when prospects sites are updating their rankings, and BJN is no different!

At the beginning of the season, we released 20 articles featuring 20 players, as well as a two “ones to watch”.
For the mid-season update, we’ll be doing a top 60 in six articles. Not just that, but this article will be focusing on the players that just missed out for various reasons, such as age relative to the league they play in, or they’re underperforming.
At the end of the day, these articles are to inform you of players that you may not have known about in the Blue Jays system. There won’t be any 2022 draftees on the “ones that missed” out list, but you can read about them here. 
Unlike the preseason articles, I’ll also be giving my own scouting report on players if they’re in High A, Double A or Triple A. For A ball and the two rookie league teams, we’ll be relying on statistics from the 2022 season.
Zac Cook:
Zac Cook is a 24-year-old outfielder currently with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. He signed with the Blue Jays as an undrafted free agent in 2020 and has risen to be Toronto’s 31st best prospect according to Fangraphs.
Cook’s 2022 stats:
This season, the 24-year-old is slashing .189/.315/.378 in 299 plate appearances. The outfielder has one of the highest home run totals in the Blue Jays organization at 13.

@cookie4822 with ANOTHER homer.@Fishercats are making it close, as the next batter hit a double.#NextLevel #BlueJays pic.twitter.com/clPxlGrgUU
— Brennan …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

2022 TLN Prospect Rankings: #10 Ty Voit

It’s easy to forget that we’re just one season removed from the cancellation of the 2020-21 OHL campaign. The long-term impact of the development for the prospects affected has yet to be seen, but we are already beginning to see steals emerge from the 2021 draft in the short term.
In the fifth round in 2021, the Toronto Maple Leafs took a swing on a small, creative winger who had shown promise in his underage season as a potential high-end playmaker in Ty Voit. Ranked as high as the second round by some outlets, Voit fell to the fifth round due largely to his non-existent draft-eligible season.
In selecting Voit, the Maple Leafs were hoping to have found a gem out of unusual circumstances. Returning to action in 2021-22, Voit began to make good on that upside, emerging as one of the elite playmakers in the OHL and proving he should’ve been drafted much earlier than 153rd overall.
Ty Voit’s statement season with Sarnia sees him rise eight spots on the TLN Prospect Rankings to crack the top 10.
Ty Voit
C | Sarnia (OHL) | Age: 19 | 5-foot-10 | 161 lbs | Shoots: RAcquired: 2021 Draft, 153rd Overall | 2021 Ranking: #18
As was the case for most OHLers coming off of an entire year without game action, many didn’t know what to expect …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Big Blue Jays bats pound Twins bullpen in 9-3 win

Tonight’s game officially confirmed that playing at the Trop significantly affects the way the Toronto Blue Jays swing the bat.

Despite a slow start, the Blue Jays elevated almost all of Minnesota’s relievers’ ERAs tonight in a 9-3 rout of the Twins to kick off a four game set. Toronto had 13 hits tonight, one more hit than they had total in their last series against Tampa Bay. Alek Manoah got his 17th quality start of the season, putting the cherry on top of a very enjoyable win for Blue Jays fans.
Sonny Gray got the start for Minnesota, and, although his numbers were very good, those who watched the game could see that Gray did whatever he could to throw pitches on the outside parts of the zone. Gray finished the night with five walks in five innings. 46 of his 96 pitches were balls. He did paint some corners nicely, but it was frustrating watching the Jays only tally one hit off of him due to Gray throwing several borderline pitches.

However, in the 6th inning, with Gray out of the game, the Jays were able to find some hits. With one out, Teoscar Hernandez hit an absolute moonshot to left field. The ball was hit so high that the Sportsnet cameras couldn’t track where the ball absolutely landed. Viewers were led to believe that the ball was hit into the first row of seats in left field, but in reality, the ball landed 409 feet into the second deck.

Teoscar with the bat drop pic.twitter.com/Jf1mRcJDl1
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) August 5, 2022

Bo Bichette followed the home run with a double, and he was cashed in by the steaming hot Lourdes Gurriel Jr. The exact same Bichette-Gurriel combo occurred in the 8th, as Gurriel sin …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation