Those of you who think Spring Training is a sign of winter blahs coming to an end and the promise of good things…think again. If you haven’t heard, new Blue Jays starting left fielder Michael Saunders stepped into a divot around a sprinkler head while shagging fly balls and tore the meniscus in his knee. He needs surgery and is out until at least mid-July. Not even a day into spring training and the Jays are down a starter. Not a good sign. On the positive side, Anthopoulos has spent the winter signing veteran reclamation project outfielders to minor league deals so Andy Dirks and Chris Dickerson have something real to compete for and Kevin Pillar’s playing time could increase as well. The biggest issue is that Saunders is a left-handed batter and that is something the Jays lack with the departures of Lind, Melky and even Gose. What may be an interesting note is that Dionner Navarro is a switch hitter and could now be moved to acquire some outfield help or be the full time DH and back-up catcher coming out of the spring. Its early and a lot of things could play out and the team could be fine but its never a good sign when you lose a starter to a freak accident the day before players need to report.
The Raptors uneven February continues. After blowing out Atlanta they couldn’t buy a basket against a sloppy Houston team and then coughed up 18-point and 11-point leads on back to back nights against the Pelicans and Mavs to increase the losing streak to 3 games. Lowry is shooting 21% in February and the team has gotten away from driving to the basket and are settling for quick 3-pointers that haven’t been going in. Obviously, Lowry is going to shoot better in March but at 37-20 with 25 games left, I don’t think that a 50-win season is as automatic as others seem to believe. Fourteen of those 25 games are on the road and with a focus on the playoffs there will come a time when Casey will need to rest his guys. I still see some bad decision-making on the court and that needs to get cleaned up before the playoffs or it will be another first round series loss and an abrupt end to what has been an incredible season.
I called it weeks ago. I wrote about the Lions salary cap issues and trying to re-sign Suh and I said the obvious guy to get released was Reggie Bush. He has had only moderate success and with a backfield of Theo Riddick and Joique Bell, they just didn’t need him or his back-loaded contract. Unfortunately, by releasing him before June 1 they are only saving $1.75-million instead of $3.5-million if they had waited. The fact that they did it early and abruptly tells me they are closer to re-signing Suh than they are letting on. They have already made a contract offer to Jay Prater so their kicking should be consistent once again and I am now hoping they re-sign Nick Fairley but I think that will hinge on Suh agreeing to an extension. Still a couple of months to the draft but its nice to have some NFL news that doesn’t involve personal conduct policy for a change.