Three Things From Week Fifteen

Due to the All-Star break, week 15 (July 12 – 18) was a short one.  But despite the limited number of games, it was a  highly productive one for Toronto.  The Jays saw all three of their representatives make an appearance in the AL’s 3-1 loss, made a significant trade, then went out and started the second half with a sweep of the Orioles.

One thing is certain – even if Toronto loses more games than it wins in the second half, Alex Anthopoulos will make sure it’s exciting.

Here are three things from week 15:

1.  Wheeling and Dealing

The first significant trade of the season for the Jays went down last week, with Alex Gonzalez and two prospects heading out to Atlanta for Yunel Escobar and Jo-Jo Reyes.  I have dedicated a post to the trade here. 

It’s impossible to make any assumptions after only a few days, but so far Escobar has impressed with the Jays.  In his three games he is hitting .462 with a 1.192 OPS, 1 HR, and 5 RBI – including the first grand slam by a Jay this season.  Reyes dominated his first start in double-A New Hampshire (8 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 6 K for the win).  Conversely, A-Gonz is hitting .231 with a .683 OPS through four games with Atlanta.

Regardless of the stats thus far, it is obvious that AA is going to be aggressive with the trade deadline looming.  The last two articles by SI’s Jon Heyman (here and here), list seven Blue Jays among the top 46 players available at the trade deadline: Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor, Scott Downs, John Buck, Vernon Wells, Jose Bautista, Lyle Overbay.  The next two weeks could be a huge stepping stone for Toronto’s future.

2. More Baltimore Please

That is what every Jay fan should be asking for this morning.  Complain all you want about having to play in the AL East, but two good things come out of it: 1) Toronto is able to compete against the best teams and learn from them, and 2) We get to play Baltimore.

Simply put, the Orioles are terrible, and have been for a long time.  Since the 2001 season Toronto has gone 107 – 70 against Baltimore,  a winning percentage of .605.  The last time they lost a season series to the Orioles was 2004.  After last weekend’s three game sweep, the Jays are now 9-0 against them in 2010 (6-0 in Baltimore, 3-0 in Toronto) and have outscored the O’s 48-16.  It’s almost unfair.

Circle next week on your calendars, as Baltimore visits the Dome Monday through Wednesday.  Let the rout continue.

Arencibia could make an appearance in Toronto before the season is out

3. Catcher of the Future

I hate hearing that phrase because it reminds me of failures galore from Toronto’s past.  Kevin Cash.  Guillermo Quiroz.  Josh Phelps.  Curtis Thigpen.  The list is long and sad.

It looked like we were getting ready to add another name to that list after last season: J.P. Arencibia.  The “next big thing” had a rough ’09 in Vegas, hitting .236, with a .728 OPS and 21 HR in a very friendly hitters league.  After Toronto acquired Travis D’Arnaud in the Halladay deal, it looked like AA was preparing for the worst for Arencibia.

But he has exploded this season.  Through Sunday the catcher is killing triple-A pitching with a .313 average, 1.025 OPs, 27 HR, and 66 RBI in 79 games.  His 27 HR are the most in all of professional baseball, both major and minor leagues included.  His emergence is the main reason why All-Star John Buck is being shopped at the deadline.  Maybe when all is said and done Arencibia can finally change the “catcher of the future” line into “catcher of the present”.

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