This whole season may just have to be a wash for the Blue Jays and Bisons. It's not what either of them expected.
The parent club is clearly in transition, with its championship window closing, and injuries up top have rattled the farm system to its core. Meanwhile, the Bisons have collapsed in stunning fashion.
The Bisons are careening to their 12th straight non-playoff season spanning three parent clubs. A team that started the season 13-5 and was still eight games over .500 in early June just put up the most losses in any month in its history.
Think about that.
The Herd's 8-23 record in June was worse than the '94 run-for-the-bus August ushered by Pittsburgh farmhands and any month in the four forgettable seasons with the New York Mets. The only similar flameout in the modern era was the 2-16 disaster the Mets foisted upon us in their debut of April, 2009. Talk about making a first impression.
Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins tried as best he could to put on a happy face when he was at the ballpark Thursday night but he knows he was putting lipstick on a pig. The Jays want to win in Triple-A, just like Atkins and president Mark Shapiro became familiar with as the Bisons were big winners when they were with Cleveland.
In what's now turning into five seasons, the Blue Jays affiliation has been a business success but a baseball disappointment for the Bisons. It has served the Jays well in the big leagues when you consider the contributions of players like Kevin Pillar, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Ryan Goins to teams that came within an eyelash of the World Series.
The constant run of injuries in the big leagues has drawn a lot of scrutiny from the Toronto media because it seems counterintuitive to the Jays' initiative of having a new "high performance department." Some things are flukes. But all the muscle pulls seem like they could be more preventable than they are. And the trickledown effect really hurts in the minors.
One disappointment that's really hurt at all levels is the wrist surgery for top outfield prospect Anthony Alford. He was lighting things up at Double-A New Hampshire batting .325 and the Blue Jays wanted to give him a brief look. He would have then come to Buffalo and ostensibly anchored the lineup. But he's yet to arrive and the season has gone down the drain.
It's a tough one for the Buffalo front office to swallow. Especially with how strong Lehigh Valley and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre look. The Phillies and Yankees have all kinds of upper-level prospects. The Blue Jays are optimistic about what's in Class A Lansing and Dunedin, notably the sons of former big leaguers Vladimir Guerrero and Dante Bichette. But it's a while before they hit Buffalo.
Enjoy the beer, hot dogs and Celery's quest for a victory this summer. The standings are shot as far as the Bisons go. Again.
Montero's mouth costs him his job
The Cubs reacted swiftly in dumping catcher Miguel Montero, who drove in what proved to be winning the run in Game Seven of the World Series last November in Cleveland. Montero torched pitcher Jake Arrieta to the media for leaving him out to dry during a game last week when the Nationals went 7 for 7 stealing bases on him. Montero had not thrown a runner out all season but partner Wilson Contreras was at 31 percent.
It wasn't a good look. Anthony Rizzo ripped Montero on his radio show the next day and the Cubs quickly designated Montero for assignment.
"He's obviously frustrated. Whenever anyone steals seven bases, Miggy gets frustrated," Rizzo said. "It's his second time barking in the media and not just going to his teammates. It's something as a veteran like he is, you'd think he'd make smarter decisions about it.
"When you point fingers you're a selfish player. We have another catcher that throws everyone out. "This is all over TV last night. Now I gotta talk about it today. We win as 25 lose as 25. To call teammates out? What’s the point?"
Good point. There's an old phrase in sports about keeping things in house. Montero didn't abide by it and he's gone. He should have known better.
Bartolo to the Mets?
The Braves had no use for a 44-year-old pitcher so they designated Bartolo Colon for assignment. But the Mets certainly need another arm and a reunion seems more than a little plausible.
Colon signed a one-year, $12.5 million contract with the Braves over the winter and was supposed to join R.A. Dickey as a veteran bridge in the rotation in the first year at SunTrust Park while the Braves waited for younger arms to develop. But Colon was 2-8 with an 8.14 ERA in 13 starts.
"The reality is that I've been getting hit hard and that's the truth and you can't dance around it," said Colon, a 15-game winner last season.
We just got past the 20-year anniversary of Colon's no-hitter in Buffalo. In what remains the only no-no in the 30-year history of Coca-Cola Field, Colon blanked the New Orleans Zephyrs, 4-0, on June 20, 1997 and was nearly perfect. He walked the second man of the game, that runner was caught stealing and Colon then retired the final 25 hitters.
Gose goes to the mound
Former Bisons and Blue Jays center fielder Anthony Gose simply didn't hit enough to stay in the big leagues. But his career isn't over at age 26. Instead, Gose has reinvented himself as a left-handed reliever. He entered the weekend with an 8.68 ERA in 10 outings at Class A Lakeland in the Tigers chain -- but seven of the nine runs he has given up came in two outings.
Gose's last four outings, however, have been impressive: Five hitless innings with eight strikeouts and no walks. A high school pitcher in California, Gose has reportedly been in the high 90s at several points in his stint.
Bochy: Report makes quite a leap
Remember when former president Ted Black famously called the Sabres' alternate jerseys "TurdBurgers"? Giants manager Bruce Bochy may have one-upped that last week when talking about a Fox Sports report that said his clubhouse was rife with dissension.
“It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds, to be honest," Bochy said of the report by Ken Rosenthal, which said that $62 million closer Mark Melancon has caused all kinds of trouble by, among other things, demanding the team change its pregame stretching schedules.
"It’s a non-story for me, it really is,” said Bochy, who was quoted in the story as saying he called a team meeting to sort out the team’s stretching routine. “I thought he was talking about the team stretch. They’re like kids sometimes. They’ll get out there late. That’s what my meeting was about."
Around the horn
---The Indians continue to be concerned with the health of manager Terry Francona. For the second time this season, he left a game early last week and turned over the reins to bench coach Brad Mills because he was feeling light-headed. Francona underwent a battery of tests to rule out any serious illness and said it was a case of his blood pressure dropping. At age 58, Francona has had knee and hip replacements, and it's reasonable to wonder how he will do traveling to the All-Star Game in Miami and returning to his normal gig rather than taking those four days off.
---Ichiro Suzuki started a game in center field for the Marlins last week, making him the oldest center field in history. Elias Sports said Ichiro, at 43 years and 246 days old, broke the record of Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. He was 43-211 when he made his last start in center for the Red Sox on July 24, 2002.
---The Indians and Twins are currently battling atop the AL Central and will have an unusual setting for two games next April: San Juan, Puerto Rico. The teams will meet in a two-game series on April 17-18. The Twins home games are the first regular season contests in Puerto Rico since the Mets and Marlins played there in 2010.
---Former Canisius College star Sean Jamieson, 28, has retired after a career that got him to Triple-A in the Diamondbacks organization. A 2014 knee surgery and 2016 shoulder surgery forced Jamieson to make the decision to call it quits. He played 77 games last year at Reno in the Pacific Coast League, batting .244 with one homer and 18 RBIs.
Jamieson, an Ontario native, was a Double-A Southern League all-star in 2014, when he batted .298 at Mobile. He was the Metro Atlantic co-player of the year in 2011 and a three-time representative of Team Canada, including a gold medal at the Pan An Games in 2015.