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What the Jays need most as the deadline approaches – TSN



No team is as good as they look when they are at their best, or as bad as they look when the play their worst. The month of July has been a bit of a roller coaster for the Toronto Blue Jays. Remember, in this month alone, the Jays have lost nine of 10 games and won nine of 10 games. They have looked their best and their worst. So, will the real Toronto Blue Jays please stand up!

With the trade deadline just a few days away, general manager Ross Atkins is hunting for ways to improve his club. Not only to get to the playoffs, but win once they arrive as well. Nothing about their recent hot streak will dissuade him from making moves to improve his team. The losing streak is still fresh in his mind. He knows how quickly things can turn. 


The team needs have not changed much during the month of July. In order of priority, the Jays need: another starting pitcher, bullpen depth and one big bat. The pitching needs are most critical.

Ideally, they would trade for a front-of-the-rotation guy who could take the ball in a playoff series and win a big game. If they don’t land an ace, then they need a second-tier starter who can predictably give them a chance to win every outing. If they settle for a lesser starter, then they should focus on acquiring stronger relievers. They could really use another left-handed reliever who can get big outs in the 8th or 9th innings. They need a veteran reliever who can save the game at any point of the game. Sometimes games need to be saved in the 6th and 7th innings. This lefty would be a complement to Jordan Romano in high-leverage situations. 

Offensively, Toronto could use another big bat in the lineup. Realistically, that hitter would mostly serve as a designated hitter. Ideally, he would bat left-handed to better balance the lineup, which is a bit right-hand dominant. Or, even better, he would be a switch-hitter. But mostly, they just need him to be a good professional hitter. 

Reading the trade market

When general managers are making their calls this time of the year, they are juggling a number of parallel negotiations. GMs have to have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and Plan D for each need they are looking to fill. So, Atkins has to identify who the best starter, reliever and hitter may be for this team. But the reality is that no team has the prospect capital, financial flexibility or good fortune to get the best available players in multiple areas of need. In their conversations with other clubs, general managers are gauging the fit for the players they are considering acquiring: the cost of the acquisition and the timing of when a deal can happen.

It is a juggling act trying to stay involved in all of the discussions while navigating for the best outcome as of 6:00 p.m. ET on Aug. 2. 

Atkins will have to weigh his ability to get Reds ace Luis Castillo or A’s starter Frankie Montas for the starting rotation. Knowing that if he gets one of them it will cost so much that he will have to likely settle for lesser relievers and offensive help. If he can’t get one of the aces, then he will have to make sure he gets a stronger reliever tandem and hitter. If he gets a lesser starter and can’t land the relievers he would prefer, then the quality of the hitter should be higher. There are a bunch of moving parts that call for the general manager to be nimble and smart. There is an art to keeping every deal alive and calculating what is the best combination of players to acquire and at what cost. 

It is critical that the Jays make moves to address their needs. Have you ever sat in a car in a traffic jam and experienced a feeling like you were rolling backwards, but it was just an illusion because the movement was actually the cars next to you rolling forward? That’s what it feels like at the trade deadline when the teams around your club in the standings are making deals and improving and you are not. It feels like you have gotten worse. General managers recognize that feeling and its impact. Players want to see effort and commitment from their front office.  As a general manager, I couldn’t throw a pitch or hit the ball. But at the trade deadline it was my time to compete. 

I wanted to win the deadline. 

I knew there were other good teams and aggressive general managers, but I believed a GM who made the right deals could manipulate the roster in a way to get his club to the playoffs and win. Look at the Atlanta Braves last season. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos added four outfielders at the deadline (Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson and Jorge Soler) and shortly after they passed the Mets, who had been in first place for over 100 days. They rode the wave of momentum all the way to a World Championship.

Demand exceeding supply this year?

The expanded playoff format adds another interesting twist to the trade deadline. There are now six teams in each league that will make the playoffs; the three division winners and three wild cards. The top two division winners by record get a bye in the first round while the third division winner plays the third wild card club and the first and second wild card teams play each other. The higher seeded teams will host all of the games in a best-of-three series.   

The law of supply and demand applies to baseball like it does to the economy. The more teams that are in the playoff chase, the greater the demand for player acquisitions at the trade deadline. The asking price by sellers will be marginally higher for talent this year because of the greater opportunity to play in October.  

An example is the Yankees’ acquisition of Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi Wednesday night. The Yankees need starting pitching and bullpen help and a left-handed hitting outfielder.  There was speculation that they would be all-in on Nationals outfielder Juan Soto. Instead, Yankee GM Brian Cashman made a pre-emptive strike to get Benintendi. Cashman realized his greater need is pitching over offence (they have scored the most runs in baseball). So, rather than put all his eggs in the Soto basket, he made a deal to get his Plan B option. He moved quickly before some of the teams on the bubble decide whether they are buyers or sellers. 

Cashman read the supply and demand scale in the market. He also had to prioritize his needs. By making the deal for the Plan B outfielder, he still has impact prospects to put toward pitching upgrades. Now there is one less outfielder on the market, so as the supply drops, the price will go up for others to acquire a bat. In the meantime, Cashman can use his remaining trade chips in the pitching market. 

Whatever team wins the World Series in 2022, trade deadline acquisitions will likely be a big reason why they were successful. I can’t wait to see which moves prove to be the most impactful.

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Quick Reaction: Raptors 111, Bucks 118



O. Anunoby37 MIN, 22 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 8-12 FG, 4-5 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -1 +/-

Not much more you could ask for from OG tonight, except maybe for some more touches down the stretch. His run of great form continued against the Bucks tonight where he played phenomenally on both ends.

P. Siakam39 MIN, 13 PTS, 12 REB, 7 AST, 2 STL, 5-14 FG, 1-5 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -12 +/-

Siakam is one of the better players in the league in terms of finding ways to impact the game when his shot isn’t falling, but boy the shot would have been nice to have tonight. He’s cooled down a bit from his unfathomably hot start earlier in the season. It’s not a cause to be concerned just yet, but as the team around him starts to hit their stride, it’ll be even sweeter as Pascal does as well.

J. Poeltl31 MIN, 20 PTS, 6 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 10-18 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 BLK, 1 TO, -17 +/-

It was nice to finally have someone who can take the Brook assignment without Nurse having to implement an entire scheme to make up for the lack of size. Even so, it wasn’t the greatest performance from the big man tonight, who went a shocking -17 in his 30 minutes.

S. Barnes13 MIN, 5 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 2-3 FG, 1-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -5 +/-


The X-ray came back negative thankfully, but Scottie missed the second half with a wrist injury. He was playing well up until his departure. While the loss is tough to swallow, it’s important to keep in mind that Mr. 4th Quarter had to watch it from the locker room.

F. VanVleet38 MIN, 23 PTS, 4 REB, 11 AST, 1 STL, 9-21 FG, 3-8 3FG, 2-3 FT, 0 BLK, 4 TO, 3 +/-

Fred always plays well against the Bucks and tonight was no different. He kept the ball moving and made shot after shot for a team that desperately needed it.

P. Achiuwa20 MIN, 5 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST, 0 STL, 2-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 1-2 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 7 +/-

The numbers are underwhelming sure, but Precious looked like vintage Precious tonight. In a good way, too. Getting Precious back into a rhythm this season hasn’t been easy but he’s slowly finding his step, and was absolutely a positive on the floor tonight in a matchup where his physicality on defence was necessary.

G. Trent Jr.33 MIN, 18 PTS, 3 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 6-18 FG, 5-10 3FG, 1-2 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 3 +/-

This is a different Raptors team when Gary is on. He played great early on but it trailed off toward the latter half. I think he’ll continue to excel in his role off the bench, but in particular with Scottie out for the second half, Gary couldn’t deliver when they needed it tonight.

C. Boucher16 MIN, 5 PTS, 3 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 2-4 FG, 0-1 3FG, 1-1 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -3 +/-

A pretty unremarkable stretch from Boucher all things considered. The Bucks are not a great match-up for him either and it showed.

W. Barton13 MIN, 0 PTS, 2 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 0-6 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -10 +/-

The Barton minutes were, too put it bluntly, bad. He got an extended run in the fourth and it cost the team a lot more than it should have. The backup PG revolving door may continue until game 82 at this rate.

Nick Nurse

Outside of a questionable lineup to open up the fourth, Nurse did fine to put us in a position to win against perhaps the best team in the league.

Things We Saw

  1. The Raptors clearly wanted to let the Bucks shoot from 3, and it almost worked. They took 45 threes tonight and only made 16.
  2. OG Anunoby took one shot in the fourth quarter after playing a stellar three quarters offensively. As easy as it is to say I’d love to see him be more assertive, the Raptors also have to make an effort to find him in these situations.

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UPEI coach defends team’s actions at the U Sports Men’s Hockey National Championship




The University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) coach is defending the team’s actions, after the University of Alberta (U of A) team skated off the ice without handshakes at the U Sports Men’s Hockey National Championship in Charlottetown.

The crowd booed and hurled trash as the U of A’s team left the ice after defeating UPEI in the semifinals Saturday night.

During the third period, the teams got into an on-ice fight following a hard hit against U of A’s goalie.


Speaking to reporters, University of Alberta’s head coach Ian Herbers said he made the decision to not take part in the traditional handshake for safety reasons.

“Didn’t feel safe for our players. I thought something else would happen and then get into a bigger incident, and then create bigger havoc, and then be a big black eye for our league, so I didn’t want that opportunity to happen,” said Herbers. “I felt it was safer for our players and better for the league not to get into a situation like that.”

Someone in the crowd hurled a beer can at the U of A team as they left the ice.

Some players on UPEI’s team said the choice to shake hands was disrespectful.

“Honestly it’s kind of classless. Yeah it was a rough game, but it’s hockey,” said UPEI player Keleb Pearson. “Some of the plays, yeah, they shouldn’t have happened, but come on, at least you can shake our hands.”

University of Prince Edward Island’s head coach Forbes MacPherson defended his team’s behaviour on the ice.

“There was one incident that happened with 14 minutes left in the game,” said MacPherson. “Nothing else happened after.”

MacPherson said that the incident on the ice isn’t representative of the team’s behaviour.

“At no point was there multiple incidents. There was one incident,” said MacPherson. “All year there was only one team in our conference that had less penalty minutes than us.”

Sunday’s bronze medal game began with a reminder that abuse against players, staff, and officials would not be tolerated.


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Sharks’ James Reimer declines to wear Pride-themed jersey



San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer won’t take part in pre-game warmups, saying the team’s decision to wear Pride-themed jerseys in support of the LGBTQ community runs counter to his religious beliefs.

The Manitoba-born goalie, who got his start playing minor hockey in the small town of Arborg, said in a statement Saturday that he made the decision based on his Christian beliefs, adding that he “always strived to treat everyone with respect” and that members of the LGBTQ community should be welcome in hockey.

“In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions, which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life,” Reimer said.

Reimer is the second NHL player this season to refuse to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys, with Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov declining to in January. Reimer was not slated to start in Saturday night’s home game against the New York Islanders, which is Pride night.


Additionally, the New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night in January despite previously advertising that plan.

The Sharks said in a statement that they are proud to host Pride Night, saying the event reinforces the team’s commitment to inclusiveness.

“As we promote these standards, we also acknowledge and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic,” the team said in a statement. “As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to engage in active allyship.”

The You Can Play Project, which works to promote inclusiveness in sports, said the organization was disappointed in Reimer’s actions.

“Religion and respect are not in conflict with each other, and we are certainly disappointed when religion is used as a reason to not support our community,” the organization said.

“Wearing pride jerseys, like any celebration jersey worn, is not about the personal feelings of an athlete; rather the communication from the team that a community is welcome in the arena and the sport.”


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