While I don’t think that the Blue Jays are going to make a trade for Matt Garza before the July 31 trade deadline, many of the moves that the Blue Jays have made throughout this huge disappointment of a season have the ring of desperation.
It’s almost as if GM Alex Anthopoulos has a need to prove to the fans or himself that the Jays are truly going for it. Here’s a message to AA: We know you’re going for it, but this just isn’t the year.
To make the playoffs in the AL East, you need things to go your way. Unheralded players need to have career years. You need to avoid injuries to your star players so that they can play like star players. You need healthy star players to actually play like star players. With only a couple of exceptions, none of this has happened and the Jays have seen pitching injuries that, while not nearly as catastrophic as last year’s, have sent one of the deeper pitching rotations in the major leagues (on paper to start the year) into a free fall.
In my opinion, it’s time for Alex Anthopoulos to realize that this isn’t the year and to stop making moves out of desperation. What moves have been made out of desperation?
1) Activating Brett Lawrie from the DL too early. Twice.
The first time I could understand because it was very early in the season and there was still hope for this team. The though process of the fans was “If we could just get Brett Lawrie back, then we can start winning and moving into a contending position.” The second time, I was hearing “We won’t promote him until he’s comfortable hitting.” What happened to that? While it’s only been 2 games since his activation (he’s gone 1 for 8 but has only had 1 strikeout) he went 2 for 12 in Buffalo (with 7 strikeouts and 1 walk), 3 for 9 in New Hampshire (with 4 walks and 2 strikeouts), 0 for 6 with 2 walks and a strikeout in Lansing and 3 for 5 with a walk and no strikeouts in Dunedin. While it’s hard to say that rehab numbers actually mean anything, I’m afraid that Brett’s come back too early again and will take another couple of weeks before he can regain his timing.
What is that reason that I think that Lawrie was activated from his rehab assignment too early? Because the Jays were getting such bad production from second base that the Jays were desperate to a) do something about it, and b) show the fans that they were doing something about it.
2) Promoting Ricky Romero too early.
Yes. Ricky had a bad year in 2012. Yes, the Blue Jays finally realized that Ricky needed to go the minors and sort things out away from the bright lights of Rogers Centre. The sent him all the way down to Dunedin where he made a grand total of one start before getting fed to the wolves in the majors. Why was he brought up with only one start in actual game situations at any level this year? Because the Blue Jays were desperate.
Obviously that decision has come back to haunt them. Ricky’s back in the minors and has had an up and down year, mostly with Buffalo. If the Jays were to bring Ricky back up now, I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with it, but I still think he needs to work on things.
Alex Anthopoulos was quoted as saying:
“What we need to see is, we need to see that over and over and over again. It should come to the point where he dominates that league. If he’s going to be the starter that he was for us– and he certainly has the ability and the youth to come back and be that guy again– he should at some point start to dominate that league. And an outing like last night is a step in the right direction. If he can do that a few more times in a row– I’m definitely going to make the drive down to go see him– he’ll certainly be in the mix to get back here.”
We’ve heard things like this from AA before and then he goes and changes his mind. Let’s hope that he sticks to his guns and lets Romero get a few more starts (at least) in Triple-A before they send the limo to Buffalo to go get him.
3) The revolving door of pitchers.
While I applaud the Jays for some of their waiver claims this year, this revolving door of pitchers has been somewhat of an embarrassment. The Blue Jays have used 29 pitchers so far this year, 13 of them have appeared in 5 games or less. Only one of them (Sergio Santos) has had his action limited due to injury.
The pitching merry-go-round hasn’t been encouraging. Sure, it’s great to see what you get from Thad Weber, Todd Redmond, Dave Bush, Ramon Ortiz, Justin Germano, Aaron Laffey, Edgar Gonzalez, etc., and I know that there are reasons why most of these guys aren’t in the majors but the “one-and-done” philosophy* has really irked me. I don’t think you can truly get a feel for a player in one outing or one day and for the Blue Jays to make up their minds on a pitcher after just one outing reeks of desperation and impatience.
Frankly, there isn’t too much available for the Blue Jays right now and conversations have even extended to using Brett Cecil as a starter. There are merits to both sides of that particular argument but ,y point is that using one or two guys, whoever they are, for several starts each rather than 7 pitchers who have combined for 18 starts might be a more patient approach. Of the 7 pitchers who have made five starts or fewer, Chien-Ming Wang and Ramon Ortiz combined for 9 of those 18 starts. And Ortiz is the only pitcher who was discarded due to injury.**
There have been a few pitchers who have stuck with the big club, primarily Ortiz until his injury as well as Neil Wagner and Juan Perez*** in the bullpen but, for the most part, it’s been a revolving door.
This season has been kind of a disaster. With major injuries to Jose Reyes, J.A. Happ, Brandon Morrow, Sergio Santos and Brett Lawrie, the Jays have been forced to go the “Replacement Level” (or below) route over and over this year. R.A. Dickey also hasn’t lived up the expectation of a consistent knuckleballer that we had for him. Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio have not been contributing up to our expectations (although Izturis has been coming on strongly lately). Melky Cabrera has been walking wounded as well as being mostly an empty batting average this season.
Almost everything that could have gone wrong has and it’s time the Blue Jays management accepts that and allows the rest of year the take its course without resorting to drastic measures. This means that the Jays shouldn’t bring up guys like Sean Nolin and Marcus Stroman prematurely. They shouldn’t sell off the farm in a deal for a player like Matt Garza at the trade deadline. Ride out the injuries and some pitchers will be coming back soon. Happ has started rehab. Drew Hutchison has started rehab. We’re not sure what’s going on with Sergio Santos (if you want to know why that is, read this article by Andrew Stoeten).
It’s time to acknowledge that 2013 isn’t the year for the Blue Jays, but with some breaks in 2014 and consistent pitching, things can get better with similar personnel to we have now.
* Admittedly, the Jays gave Chien-Ming Wang and now Todd Richmond more of a chance.
*** Ok, seriously people, why is no one talking about Juan Perez. He still hasn’t allowed an earned run in nineteen innings and has a WHIP of 0.763.