Series Preview: vs. New York Yankees April 19th-20th

Okay Jays’ fans; deep breath, and exhale.  Okay, let’s just calm the fuck down about the Jays losing three of four to the Red Sox.  Yes, they played like shit, but here’s the secret:  Despite what their record says, the Boston Red Sox are arguably the best team in baseball.  They have four good starting pitchers and a fifth starter that most teams are very envious of, and a ridiculous lineup.  Let’s also mention that this series was at Fenway Park, where there is a strong home-field advantage.

Just calm down.  No need to jump off whatever bandwagon you hopped on in the offseason.  If we’ve been realistic since the beginning, we all know the Jays aren’t exactly what you would call a good team right now.  Let’s keep our eyes on the collective prize and realize that there are a lot of things going for the Jays.

For instance, Brett Lawrie is currently raking at AAA-Las Vegas.  He’s 20 for 47 with eight extra-base hits and two stolen bases.  Now, I know it’s the PCL, but that’s still impressive.  If he continues at this pace and manages to be half-competent defensively, it won’t be long before he’s called up to the majors.  For the record, I would still keep him down in AAA for most of the year, but I feel like the Jays will call him up if he keeps hitting like this.

As for the upcoming series, the Jays will host the Yankees for a short two-game set at the Dome.  New York is coming off a 4-1 week and sit atop the AL East with a 9-5 record, while Toronto is coming off an unimpressive 3-7 road trip and will look to rebound at home.

The boo birds will be out in full force tonight as A.J. Burnett takes the hill for New York against rookie Kyle Drabek for the Jays.  Burnett has had a decent start going 3-0 with a 4.67 ERA in his first three starts.  If not for giving up three homeruns in 17.1 innings, Burnett’s numbers would be better.  So far he’s been striking batters out and has kept his walk-rate more-than-respectable.

Drabek, on the other hand, has been outstanding so far this year posting a 1.93 ERA and 3.70 FIP in his first three starts and looks as though he’s here to stay.  So far, he’s been striking batters out at a near one-per-inning clip and although he’s walked a few too many, the outlook is very promising.  He’ll be tested tonight against debatably the best lineup in the Majors.

At the moment, the lineups have yet to be finalized, but Alex Rodriguez might not be on the card as he’s still recovering from his oblique strain.  If he isn’t in tonight, he’ll likely be in tomorrow.

The matchup for tomorrow’s game will be Brett Cecil for the Jays against Bartolo Colon for the Yankees.  Cecil battled through more inconsistencies in his last start, but looked much better than in his previous two.  His velocity seemed slightly more consistent as well.  Colon, on the other hand, will be making his first start for the Bombers after starting the season in the bullpen.  With Phil Hughes hitting the DL with ‘dead arm’, Colon is expected to make a least a few starts.

In other news, the Jays traded left-hander David Purcey to the A’s for Danny Farquhar after Purcey was designated for assignment last week.  Farquhar was just traded to the A’s by the Jays in the Rajai Davis deal and will return to his original organization.

I think Purcey, a former number-one pick of the Jays, has a lot of potential as a shut-down reliever, but he needs to figure out his control problems; a change of scenery to Oakland may be just what he needs.

The Jays also sent Jesse Litsch to AAA-Las Vegas today to make room for reliever Frank Francisco who rejoins the team after a right pectoral strain had him sidelined for over a month.  It’s unknown how Jays manager John Farrell intends to use Francisco right out of the gate.

Finally, Brandon Morrow, who’s been on the disabled list since late in the spring with elbow inflammation should make his first start of the season on Friday against the Rays.

Down on the Farm
As mentioned earlier, Lawrie has been absolutely raking in AAA, but there are other players making noise in the Jays’ system.  Yesterday, 2010 first-round draft pick Deck McGuire notched his first professional win for High-A Dunedin against the Lakeland Flying Tigers pitching 5.2 innings of three-hit shutout ball, walking two and striking out four.  In his first three appearances with Dunedin, McGuire has a 1.88 ERA.

Catching prospect Travis D’Arnaud has been struggling so far with AA-New Hampshire posting a .133/.212/.167 slash line in his first eight games, while McGuire’s teammate in Dunedin, catcher Carlos Perez has started well going .400/.483/.560 in his first 29 plate appearances.

Shortstop prospect Adeiny Hechavarria is at AA-New Hampshire as well and has apparently been very impressive defensively once again.  He hasn’t totally embarrassed himself at the plate either with nine hits in his first 40 plate appearances.  He’s still not walking often, just once so far, but he’s only struck out three times which is promising.

Finally, a prospect to watch out for is right-handed pitcher Aaron Sanchez.  Sanchez was drafted out of a California high school last year 34th overall by the Jays and is on the radar of many scouts around baseball.  Sanchez has a projectable 6’3”, 170-pound frame and smooth arm action that allows him to let loose a low-to-mid-90s fastball with a low 70s curveball with terrific bite.  He’s also working on a changeup.  He’ll start the year in the Appalachian Rookie League with the Bluefield Blue Jays whose season gets under way on the 21st of April.

A lot of very respected prospect analysts think Sanchez will find his way into Top 100 Prospect Lists perhaps as early as next season.  Hop on the bandwagon before everyone else.  You’ll find me sitting there.

Enjoy the series!

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