Toronto Blue Jays: The David Price Era Begins


Toronto Blue Jays: The David Price Era Begins

The Toronto Blue Jays made big waves in picking up Troy Tulowitzki, even though hitting was not at all what the team needed. They needed pitching in a big way– they sorely needed pitching.

As many questioned the move (from a “need” standpoint only– no one in the right mind doubted Tulowitzki’s prominence other than his health…), Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos made the biggest move of deadline day by a longshot (the “splashiest” move).

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The Jays acquired starting pitching ace, David Price, from Detroit in exchange for hot prospect, Daniel Norris, who has spent his time waiting in the minors for his time to come (and a few other decent pitching prospects, including Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt).

Seriously though… that David Price. The one who is 9-0 at Rogers Centre and owned the Jays. Now, Price owns the Jays in the sense they have to pay his remaining salary for as little as the rest of the season… until he becomes a free agent.

In which case the Jays are unlikely to sign him for such money that he’ll demand. However, at least now, they have a fair chance to wow him and be the team to re-sign him.

Toronto, who hasn’t had a legitimate ace since Roy Halladay, now have an unquestionable ace, and there is no doubt about it. Everybody knows it…

Aug 3, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays opening pitcher David Price (14) pitches in the fourth inning against Minnesota Twins at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

There was huge buzz at the Rogers Centre as fans filled (and I mean filled to capacity) the stadium. This was a game that everybody wanted to go to, but few were actually able to.

Fans gave Price a rousing standing ovation as he strode from the outfield bullpen to the dugout. A nice start to a new chapter on a new team.

Yet, Sportsnet announcer Buck Martinez offered his surprising opinion: ‘This is a very curious reaction from the crowd at Rogers Centre”, which seemed curious to me in itself, because it was an amazing reaction– one that anyone would love to get and the home fans could be proud of.

Then he clarified: “It’s almost as if the crowd– and it’s a full house– doesn’t believe Price is pitching for the Blue Jays.” I understand that. I could hardly believe it myself.

Stunned maybe… but not curious. I got the impression that fans were doing their best to live in the moment and be ecstatic that 14 on the blue jersey read “PRICE” and were rewarding it with ravenous applause. Fans seemed over-the-moon-happy that their team finally went out and spent the money, thereby investing in the team– even if it is a rental, which the Jays supposedly didn’t do.

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Nevertheless, Rogers and management has ponied up and given the Jays the resources they need to win now. (Your ensuing phone bill may contain some additional fees.)

Enough of the future– enough of the Toronto sports’ sentiment, Maybe next year– said Alex Anthopoulos , who has manned up and pushed his chips into the pot and said “Let’s see if we can win this year”.

That’s enough to explain the fans and the atmosphere in Toronto over the Blue Jays. That’s not really curious at all Buck.

Then Price went out there and pitched. He struck out the first two batters and it was on. He gave up a second inning homerun to the ageless wonder, Torii Hunter. However, that was one of the very few hiccups.

At the end of the day, like a real ace should, he shut down the Twins and gave the Jays a great shot to win. And like the Jays often do, the highest run-producing offense across Major League Baseball, put up enough runs to win. This looks to be a great marriage.

Aug 3, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher David Price (14) speaks with catcher Russell Martin (55) in the fourth inning against Minnesota Twins at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

David Price… yeah, how’d he fare? He retired the final 14 batters he faced, going eight strong innings, striking out 11 batters, and setting the fans further ablaze with hope and amazement.

Directly following the game in an on-field interview, Price addressed the magnetism of the Rogers Centre: “That was hands-down the best atmosphere I’ve ever pitched in.” That’s encouraging for the future.

In his press conference after, he echoed that sentiment. Price thought about the question again and listed his other huge games– mostly playoff games– and compared them to the environment of his debut in Toronto: “But that atmosphere today, that takes the cake. That was… I’ve never experienced anything like that. It was so cool. This is the type of atmosphere you grow up wanting to play in.”

So the question then turns to what are the chances that Price stays and signs with the Jays, perhaps long term. Tim Micallef, of Tim and Sid on Sportsnet addressed that question: “This weekend had OVO-fest (with Drake), his parents were there, holiday Monday – everything you could ask for to make this city look not only cool, but hot. This is leverage when you wanna re-sign a guy.

“And I can’t tell you how good Toronto looked in that spot.”

Jul 29, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor in the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Micallef is entirely correct. Everything lined up that day. Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder– pending free agent next season (but that’s another article), was in Toronto for Drake’s OVO-fest, and he was also at the Dome to watch the Jays on this Civic Holiday.

Will the stars continue to align for Price in Toronto? It’s definitely a hard act to follow up, but as long as the second set doesn’t fall on its face, Toronto seems to have more than thrown in its hat for Price’s services for next season and the years to come.

The biggest takeaway for me was it seemed that what Price was saying after his debut was totally genuine. It’s hard to see the Jays being able to dish out the dinero to appease him, but from what he said one game into the Price-era, it really seemed that there’s no place he’d rather be.

So that’s about the future, but what about right now – which is what AA bought in for by acquiring Price. Speaking to the atmosphere that Price was enveloped in inside the Rogers Centre on Monday was Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, who recalls when it was the SkyDome: “I’ve seen that atmosphere here before”.

His authority? He won a World Series here in 1993. Actually, he was the World Series MVP. So he’s been here, done that.

With the win, the Jays pulled into a tie with his Twins for the second wild-card playoff position (and with another win on Tuesday, the Jays now sit-in this postseason spot.). In a one-game win-or-go-home scenario, who would pitch for Toronto? Give the ball to their ace!

And although it has become cliché very fast, I’m only gonna say it once, but for one game, the Price is right! With Price on the hill, the Jays would almost certainly be favourites.

What happened to that team who won the Wild Card last year? They went to a place Molitor is familiar with as a Blue Jay, the World Series.

Finally, the Blue Jays are in a good spot right now.

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