Toronto Blue Jays

Liam Hendriks' turnaround on A's is template for Sharks' Martin Jones


Liam Hendriks' turnaround on A's is template for Sharks' Martin Jones

Oakland A's closer Liam Hendriks inherently knows a thing or two about baseball, and its corresponding struggles.
He's also an avid NHL fan, participating in four different fantasy hockey leagues.
That's why Hendriks, who dramatically went from being designated for assignment to MLB All-Star in a span of 12 months, can truly empathize and relate to the challenges Sharks goalie Martin Jones is enduring right now.
"It's really hard to climb the mountain to get to the confidence spectrum," Hendriks shared at spring training. "And it's real easy to slip down"
The job of a baseball closer is not that much different than a hockey goalie's.
"I've drawn comparisons before," Hendriks said. "As a reliever, you can have one mishap in a game and it completely changes that entire month and season for you, necessarily. Same for a goalie, you can be on fire all night, have 30 saves, and it's that one that squeaks through that can be the deciding factor."
Hendriks then continued with differences, showing off his full hockey prowess: "As a pitcher, we don't have to deal with re-directs, or traffic out front or anything ..."
So, the big questions remain: How did Hendriks rebound even stronger from one of the deepest and darkest times of his career? And how could any of that help Jones? Is it mostly physical, or something else? 
"Emotional turmoil is one of the hardest things to pick up on, and then rectify," Hendriks stated. "It all depends on the way you approach the aftermath of this sort of setback, or whatever you want to call it. But you need to remain positive in my eyes. When I went down there (to the minors), it was like, if I'm going out ... it's going to be on my terms. I'm going to do exactly what I think I need to do, to be the best version of myself."
Hendriks latched onto hockey, and specifically the Montreal Canadiens while playing for the Toronto Blue Jays earlier in his career. But says the Sharks are his "American team."

[RELATED: How Sharks can address goalie problem at trade deadline]
He also has a much more superstitious fix that maybe Jones should try.
"Change his jersey number, that helped me out. Thirty-one had too many runs in it for me."
Yes, Hendriks -- like Jones -- wore No. 31 for Oakland before being DFA'd. He came back wearing No. 16, and he hasn't looked back since.

Kevin Pillar thanks Giants, fans one day after being non-tendered

Kevin Pillar thanks Giants, fans one day after being non-tendered

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants knew Kevin Pillar was popular in Toronto, but a few of his teammates were surprised by just how much love was shown when Pillar returned with the Giants a few weeks after a trade to the West Coast. Pillar was cheered thunderously throughout the series and received a long standing ovation when the Blue Jays showed a tribute video.

Giants fans soon fell in love with Superman, too, and Pillar's teammates selected him as the Willie Mac Award winner. Pillar's run in San Francisco lasted just one season, with the team deciding to non-tender him on Monday. The next morning, Pillar posted a message to the organization and fans:

One of the points Pillar made there is a fascinating one. He is from a generation of players that did look forward to free agency, but the market has been unkind to veterans the past couple of years.

It was telling that the Giants weren't able to find a trade partner before the 5 p.m. deadline on Monday, and Pillar may have trouble matching the $10 million salary he was due in arbitration.

[RELATED: Would Giants wait all the way until January to sign Cole?]

But, he shouldn't have trouble finding a new home. It's hard to fill a hole in center field, and Pillar still is fully capable of getting plenty of time out there for a contender. The Mets, in particular, look like an early match, and Pillar should find other teams that value his glove, leadership, and ability to mash lefties. 

Blue Jays trade Marcus Stroman to Mets for two pitching prospects


Blue Jays trade Marcus Stroman to Mets for two pitching prospects

The MLB trade market is starting to bussle, but the latest move has left all observers scratching their heads and the Giants in a different position.

The New York Mets announced Sunday that they have acquired All-Star starter Marcus Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays for two top pitching prospects.

Fox Sports' Jon Morosi first reported that the teams had reached an agreement on a trade.

Shortly after reports of the trade surfaced, Stroman tweeted a farewell message to Toronto.

The Mets, as of Sunday, are five games under .500 (50-55) and six games out of an NL wild-card spot. They aren't exactly contenders, but they just made a move as if they are fighting for a playoff spot.

Stroman had been linked to several contenders over the last few days, but the Mets swooped in and snagged him.

Stroman going to the Mets could be a good thing for the Giants if they decide to trade ace Madison Bumgarner between now and the MLB trade deadline Wednesday.

With Stroman off the board, teams such as the Yankees, Twins, Braves and Astros have one less option to go after, so they could turn their attention to Bumgarner. If those contenders get desperate enough, they might be forced to increase their offer to Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.

As for what the Blue Jays got in return for Stroman, the Mets are sending pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson to Toronto. Those were the Mets' No. 4 and No. 6 prospects, respectively, according to MLB Pipeline.

That's likely the type of package Zaidi is hoping to get for Bumgarner, if not more. But Stroman is almost two years younger than Bumgarner and under team control for the 2020 season. Bumgarner is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of this season, lowering his value because he's seen as a "rental" player.

While the Stroman deal could be good for the Giants, the next move by the Mets could be bad news for San Francisco.

[RELATED: Giants in 'listening mode' on Bumgarner]

The New York Times' Bob Klapish reported Sunday the Mets now will look to trade Noah Syndergaard, although the team that has been linked to "Thor" the most is the San Diego Padres.

Complicating matters is that the Giants won again Sunday, defeating the Padres 7-6 in San Diego. With the victory, the Giants now are 54-52 and 2 1/2 games out of a NL wild-card spot.