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Blue Jays Bring Big Guns to Vancouver

Despite an ugly forecast, there should be at least one patch of sunshine (if nothing else, Marcus Stroman‘s ever present smile will light up the room) in town tomorrow as the Toronto Blue Jays arrive for their annual Vancouver Canadians hot stove luncheon.  After a thinnish lineup last year, with Kevin Pillar the only current — and he started the season in Buffalo — Blue Jay on board.  Of course, Kevin did have a connection to Vancouver, making a brief stop here for the 2011 playoffs.

This year, barring any last minute changes, not only will we get to see (and hopefully chat too) four members of the current team but 60% of the predicted starting rotation and the biggest Jays free agent signing in quite some time (and Canadian shortstop legend) Russell Martin.

Both Aaron Sanchez, who arrived in Vancouver just before Pillar, and Marcus Stroman, who got his feet wet in pro ball at the Nat, have a history here while Drew Hutchison just missed us, doing his time in low A with Auburn of the New York Penn League.

I was listening to Sportsnet’s Tim and Sid show yesterday and solo Sid was questioning the merits of the Jays cross country winter caravan.  For Vancouver the benefits are obvious.  The PDA signed between the Canadians and Blue Jays is starting to bear fruit.  With at least four members of the opening day roster having worn C’s red and white with others knocking on the door.

Last year I wrote a post discussing some of the hot button issues I’d like to speak to Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos about if given the opportunity for some one on one time.  Of course, after a press conference that focused on Masahiro Tanaka and the Jays supposed ‘5 year rule’ I did manage to corner AA where I panicked and just threw as many prospect related questions at him as I could.

Before I get into the prospect Q’s I’d like to ask this year, I did have one prescient thought last year:

That’s not good enough. Even if biomechanical engineering prevents one injury, it’s worthwhile, the last thing needed in 2014 is another Lansing pitcher to go under the knife like Roberto Osuna did last season.

Of course, a Lansing pitcher did go under the knife when 2013 Canadians hero Tom Robson was TJ’d.  I still think any pointed question about biomechanical research and what the Jays are doing to prevent further breakdowns in their young pitchers is valid.

I doubt I’d get much of an answer though.

This year, and I’m guessing a bit here, Anthopoulos and co. probably aren’t too keen about fielding a barrage of Dan Duquette (and how galactically stupid it would be to trade Jeff Hoffman for an executive — as my twitter feed is saying) queries so have done away with the press conference portion of the event.

Doesn’t mean questions can’t be asked though, as apparently there is to be a 30 minute window where us media types get to try and ask as many as we can.  For Anthopoulos, my first is pretty obvious…..have you really got a pre-agreement with Vladimir Guerrero Jr?  And if so, would you trade him for Dan Duquette?

Ah ok, maybe I won’t ask that. I do have a list somewhere but am sure my time will be limited, so hope to find out what shoulder 2014 first rounder Max Pentecost had operated on and what his rehab timetable is like.  Where ex-C’s Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna should land this year.  And with the trade of Franklin Barreto, how does that affect the supposed linear progression of the other two shortstops that made up the lower level triumvirate.

For the players, I actually threw it out there on twitter:

So far I’ve had a few responses, the most interesting thus far, asking Aaron Sanchez to throw his curveball more.

I think we all remember (although apparently YouTube has as I can’t find any video of it) the hook Sanchez threw to finish the exhibition series in Montreal.  It was a knee weakener, both literally and figuratively.

When the Barstow, California native returned to the Jays it was in a relief role and apparently the curve was left in Buffalo, throwing it just over 11% of the time with the big league club.  You can’t argue with the success he had but if he’s going to transition to a starting role this season (where his value would be the greatest) then not only will he need to up his curveball usage but the change — which he hardly threw out of the ‘pen at all — will also need to be dusted off.

Finding out if that’s what he will be focusing on this spring will be top of my list.

There’s other tidbits I hope to glean but until I find out who I actually get to speak to it’s not worth speculating.  I’ll bang out a post after the lunch with some quick thoughts.

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