Tom Dakers is the site manager for SB Nation's Blue Jays affiliate Bluebird Banter, and to prepare for the upcoming four game series with Toronto, Dakers and I exchanged questions on each other's teams. Enjoy!
The Blue Jays are a brand new team, that much is certain. What did you make of Alex Anthopoulos's moves (the Miami firesale and the RA Dickey acquisition)?
I loved the trade with the Marlins. It filled several holes in one move. We needed a leadoff hitter, Jose Reyes was likely the best leadoff hitter available. We needed starting pitching, and with Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison due to miss most of the season after Tommy John surgery last August, Josh Johnson was the player that GM Alex Anthopoulos wanted when he first got in touch with the Marlins, and the deal grew from there. Josh looked to fit in near the top of the rotation (of course, now he is injured). Mark Buehrle was another piece, and his value is mostly in his 200+ inning streak that now sits at 12 seasons. With the number of injuries we had, getting someone that has shown the ability to stay healthy seemed like a good thing (now he has us wondering if the AL East is the right place for a pitcher with his stuff). Emilio Bonifacio looked like a good addition to the middle infield. John Buck? Well, he was flipped quick. I thought the trade turned us into a contender.
I was a little less excited about the R.A. Dickey, I really like the prospects we gave up, Travis d'Arnaud, I think, will be an All-Star catcher one day, if he can evade the injury curse that has been hovering over him. He broke a bone in his foot already this season. Noah Syndergaard is a nice pitching prospect. But, the more I learned about R.A., the more I liked him. He has a great autobiography, if you are looking for something to read, Wherever I Wind Up. His press conferences are great fun. As one reporter said 'I leave his press conferences with a headache'. R.A. talks philosophy and uses words that sends writers looking for a dictionary. And, of course, the knuckleball is fun to watch, so he won me over.
What's your assessment of John Gibbons after the first month?
Well, that is pretty tough to judge on a terrible, terrible month of baseball, but we had Gibby before. He's a ok manager. Generally makes the moves you'd like. Hates the bunt. Is pretty good with his bullpen. Communicates well with the players. It isn't his fault we aren't winning.
How does the present and future look for Brett Lawrie?
Lawrie's had a slow start, he missed about a month playing time, after getting injured at the WBC. He is still working on his timing at the plate. When he does make contact, he seems to be hitting the ball harder than last year, I think he must have lead the lead in infield singles in 2012, he never seemed to make solid contact. I think he'll come around this year. Just needs his timing back. His glove is amazing. It seems he makes a highlight real play a game. He might be as good with the glove as your 3B.
He is still only 23, he'll be good in the long run.
Have injuries changed anything about Joey Bats?
Well, he's missing more games than he once did. No, he looks much the same as always. He has the most violent swing I've ever seen. Jose got off to a very slow start last year, and he's off to a similar, if somewhat better, start this year, but the last week or so he looks like he is coming out of it.
Your disabled list is eight players deep, which sounds a lot like the 2012 Rays... no one could stay healthy. Are the fans panicking?
Oh, we passed panic awhile back, we are on to acceptance, but that's more about the crappy play than the DL. Three of the players on the DL are leftovers from last year, pitchers recovering from Tommy John.
The biggest injury, this season, was Jose Reyes wrecking his ankle on a stolen base attempt. Reyes was about the only guy on the team that was hitting. We really need him batting leadoff and he won't be back until after the All-Star break.
Pitchers Josh Johnson and Sergio Santos are both on the DL with "triceps soreness'', something that sounds minor, but most Blue Jay injuries sound minor, to start, then later include a trip to Dr. Andrews.
Is Henry Blanco really that much better than Josh Thole?
Oh, this one I can get behind: NO.
The theory was that Thole should go to the minors, so that he could play every day and Blanco could be R.A. Dickey's caddy. Unfortunately, Blanco is one of those few major leaguers that can tell you where he was when Kennedy was shot (tiny exaggeration) and hits like a senior citizen. Blanco can smother the butterflies that R.A. throws, but Thole has caught him before too and Thole is hitting .361 in Buffalo. I'm ready to release Blanco and bring Thole up.
Can we expect infield prospect Ryan Goins any time soon?
I doubt it, unless there are a few more injuries among the middle infielders.
Anything else Rays fans should know?
This has been the worse month of baseball I can remember, we started with high hopes and now any win is a reason for celebration. No one in the lineup is hitting the way you would expect them too and the starting pitching hasn't been great either, though it seems to be coming around, slowly.
We'd love to finally win a game or two at that lovely ball park of yours.
Thanks Tom. For all things Blue Jays, go visit Bluebird Banter, and look for Ian's series preview later today.