Thursday Bluebird Links - Knuckle Sandwich Edition

Brett Lawrie is caught stealing home. - Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Sorry, Canadian hockey fans who stayed up or woke up early to see the semifinal game against the Americans. I hope you are able to catch some sleep during the day before heading off to the screening of Knuckleball! at Tall Boys Craft Beer House (838 Bloor Street West,Toronto) at 7 pm tonight. Word is that they will be serving $10 Knuckle Sandwiches (which is a "beer battered crispy fried chicken breast sandwich topped with bacon chili on a ballpark hotdog bun") and $5 tallboys of "Knucklebrook" Organic to wash it down. Hope to see you all there!

If you can't make it to that event, perhaps you can head to the Buffalo Bisons' annual "Hot Stove Luncheon" on Friday, January 18 where Blue Jays president & CEO Paul Beeston, general manager Alex Anthopoulos, and Bisons center fielder Anthony Gose will join Bisons general manager Mike Buczkowski to unveil the Bisons' new home, road, and alternative jerseys. Tickets are just $25 and include a buffet lunch! For more information visit their website here (where their artist seems to have misspelled "Anthopoulos").

Blue Jays Related

A Belated Happy New Year From AA - Drunk Jays Fans
Happy blogiversary to Andrew Stoeten and the Drunks, entertaining Blue Jays fans since December 2006.

Podcastery - Reviewing the Replay of the 1992 World Series - The Tao of Stieb
The Tao and Sportsnet's Mike Cormack chat for about 40 minutes about the replay of the 1992 World Series this past week. I tried to listen in but for some reason the podcast didn't load after the ad. It was at 2 am so I gave up.... I'll try later today!

Los Angeles Angels and Washington Nationals have two of the 10 best outfields - ESPN
Insider article: Buster Onley ranks the Jays' outfield as "the best of the rest" (ie. ranked #11-13), but said that Toronto could become one of the best if Jose Bautista bounces back, Colby Rasmus progresses and Melky Cabrera shows his production wasn't all drug-induced.

Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers among the top 10 infields - ESPN
Insider article: In the infield, Onley places the Jays at #7. He questions whether Edwin Encarnacion is a late bloomer or if he was a one-year wonder, and whether Jose Reyes can stay healthy on turf. He also calls Brett Lawrie "crazy talented," naming him "The X Factor":

When you listen to rival evaluators talk about Lawrie, they sound like old cowboys talking about a mustang they saw running across the range. Lawrie impresses the heck out of them with his physical tools and his passion, yet they have doubts about whether he can ever be reined in and refined in a way that allows him to become an elite player. "Totally out of control," said one longtime rival coach, noting that at times, it looks like Lawrie will just keep running on the bases until somebody tags him out.

And for insight that could only come from a seasoned veteran sportswriter: "Clearly, Lawrie could be a great player. Or not."

Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals have two of the 10 best starting rotations - ESPN
Insider article: The rejigged Blue Jays rotation is #7 on Onley's list, one spot behind the Tampa Bay Rays. He calls Josh Johnson the rotation's "linchpin guy."

The best rosters in baseball heading into 2013 - The Boston Globe
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is more optimistic about the Blue Jays than Buster Onley, writing that they have the fifth best roster in baseball. Cafardo offers a good piece of advice: avoid injuries. The Nationals, Reds, Tigers, and Angels are ranked above Toronto.

Breaking Down the 1990 Blue Jays-Padres Blockbuster Trade - Blue Jays Way
Kieran Roy of the new blog Blue Jays Way (not to be confused with another blog 1 Blue Jays Way) looks at the value the Blue Jays and the Padres got from the Fred McGriff/Tony Fernandez-Joe Carter/Roberto Alomar trade. Unlike most of the previous analyses, Roy follows through to the subsequent transactions of the players involved (for example, the Blue Jays acquired Joe Lawrence in compensation for losing Alomar to the Orioles via free agency). Accounting for all this, do the Jays still come up on top?

Best, Worst New Logos of 2012 As Chosen By SportsLogos.Net Users - SportsLogos.Net
Visitors to Chris Creamer's SportsLogos site can rate every single logo on there, and of all the new sports logos to have made a debut in 2012, the Toronto Blue Jays' primary logo got the highest rating at 9.29/10. Second was the Orlando Solar Bears (8.39) and third was the 2012 MLB All-Star Game logo (8.35). The worst of the worst was the London Olympics logo (2.68). Interestingly, the Bluefield Blue Jays' logo--basically the same as the parent club but without the maple leaf--was the 9th worst qualified logo (5.05).

Around The League

My Return To Cuba - Mop-Up Duty
Callum Hughson spent some time this past December in Havana, Cuba. He writes (and includes pictures and videos) of his time watching amateur baseball, and researched how the word "maricón" (the word infamously used by Yunel Escobar on his eyeblack this past season) was used in the Havana vernacular.

Roberto Clemente a role model for all - ESPN
Roberto Clemente is one of my favourite players from baseball history. I adored reading about him as a kid. He led decades of Latino players to the Major Leagues, was a genuine humanitarian, and a pretty damn good player to boot. He died on December 31, 1972 (just over 40 years ago) when his plane crashed en route to delivering earthquake aid to Nicaragua. Alfredo Berrios checks in with a fantastic story about Clemente.

Comprehensive MLB Final Player Payroll Figures for Last 14 Years - Biz of Baseball
Maury Brown posted this early this morning. I haven't had a chance to look it over but I'm sure there'll be a lot of data to play with once I get to it. Unfortunately (but understandably), Brown decided to post the data as an image rather than a spreadsheet... does anyone want to volunteer to transcribe all the numbers? Here's an interesting note: from 1999 to 2012, MLB clubs have spent almost $34 billion in payroll.

MLB's possible headlines in 2013 - ESPN
In a fun piece, Jim Caple writes 12 headlines that he thinks will appear in the 12 months of 2013. His choice for October: "Yo, Canada! Jays Win World Series". I couldn't not include this piece even though he writes that Jack Morris will get the call to the Hall. Also includes: a baseball card with Morris posing with Smokey the Bear.

2013 FAN Projections Now Open! - FanGraphs Baseball
A yearly tradition, FanGraphs (I never noticed that the proper style of the site name used CamelCase, ooops) opens their Fan projection ballots to let fans (you) project how well players will do in 2013. According to FanGraphs, Fan projections "are normally quite optimistic, but in some cases they can add real value about players that may follow an unusual career path. They’re also a good way to estimate a player’s potential playing time, which is a variable that most projection systems struggle with."

The 50 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame, Version 3.0 - Baseball: Past and Present
Graham Womack puts the Blue Jays' new outfield and baserunning coach Tim Raines #1 on his list of the best players outside of Cooperstown. Former Jays on that list: Roger Clemens was #6, Fred McGriff was #26, David Cone was #28, and Dave Stieb makes it to #44. Canadian slugger Larry Walker was #18.

Wade Boggs reportedly buys Field of Dreams site - FOX Sports
The Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, Iowa has been purchased by Wade Boggs and others. It is currently something like a roadside attraction (according to its Geocities-era website), but Boggs' group is looking to turn it into 24-diamond complex.

The Pinstriped Bible is Looking for a Few Good Men and Women - Pinstriped Bible
Steven Goldman is hiring writers for The Pinstriped Bible. Let me know in the comments if you're interested, and I'll happily ban you from Bluebird Banter. (Just kidding, it's not like you're moving to Over The Monster.)

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