Do you workout or frequent a public gym? If so, the Toronto Blue Jays might remind you of the Meathead who resides in every gym across Canada and the United States. Said Meathead shows up every single day, and truly works incredibly hard. He has some serious results to show for it as well…. As his instagram account full of bench press and shirtless flexing videos will attest, he can put up some truly staggering numbers with his upper body. However, like the Blue Jays, Meatball suffers from a career limiting weakness. While his upper half looks like it is chiseled out of granite, his legs look as fragile as two pieces of driftwood cast aside on a rocky beach.
The Blue Jay’s bats continue to light up the league, and there is reason to believe that they will continue to get even stronger. The team has significantly improved at catcher, third base, and second base over last season, and Jose and Edwin are yet to hit full stride. Kevin Pillar has been batting significantly better than was advertised before the season, and although Pompey wasn’t batting well before being sent down, his numbers weren’t significantly worse than what Colby Rasmus supplied the team with a year ago. In fact, the Blue Jays lead the mlb in runs scored through the end of the week.
How can a team leading the league in runs scored be under .500 twenty six games into the season? Well, the Jays also have the worst ERA in the major leagues, at 5.13. So, while the Jays bats may continue to score runs at an alarming rate (and might improve) they might need to score 8 runs a game if they are going to sniff the post season. The failures of the pitching staff aren’t constrained to one area of the team either. Of the Blue Jays 5 opening day rotation pitchers, the ERA breakdown is as follows:
Drew Hutchinson – 7.47
Mark Buerhle – 6.75
R.A Dickey – 5.23
Aaron Sanchez – 4.62
Daniel Norris - 3.86
By that statistic alone, Norris would look like the ace of the staff.... yet he was sent down to the minor leagues to clean up some technique. I’m not going to argue that Norris has been great, or that a stint down in the minors won’t provide him the opportunity to improve his pitching without the pressure the MLB. However, I will argue that we need him pitching on this team right now, because I have little confidence in some of the more experienced starters and their ability to improve on their early season performances.
The bullpen hasn’t been much better, and with his recent struggles Castro has been sent down to the minor leagues to join Norris and Pompey. We are a long way away from the first series of the season against Baltimore.
John Gibbons has never struck me as the reason the Blue Jays have failed to live up to expectations in the past two seasons, but he also has never instilled confidence with his managerial style. There is something about seeing him sit in the dugout crushing Gatorades while covered in chewing tobacco that reminds you of a distant relative who might enjoy a few too many drinks at Christmas and becomes a sloppy eater, leaving pieces of their meal on their sweater for later.
This week there were two pivotal moments when a decision (or lack of decision) made by Gibby were very questionable.
7th Inning, April 28th or 29th, Fenway Park
Score: Red Sox 3 Blue Jays 1
With two runners on and two outs in the inning, Josh Thole came up to bat. I understand wanting to give Josh some at bats, but in this situation there is really no reason to not pinch-hit Russell Martin. R.A. Dickey was finished serving up beach balls for the evening, so from a defensive perspective having Thole in for the 8th inning was not an advantage over Martin, who is throwing runners out at twice the rate of the mlb average, while also having an above average frame rate for his entire career (whatever that means).
Why are we paying a premium to go out and bring in an all-star catcher who is hitting his stride if we aren’t going to use him in key moments?
5th Inning, May 3rd Progressive Field
Score: Blue Jays 6 Cleveland on their way to 10
I was going to write extensively about how ridiculous it was for Gibbons to leave Jeff Francis in to face Ryan Rayburn who hit the game defining two run double in the 5th inning off of the jays lefty in the 5th inning yesterday, but I can summarize it pretty quickly. Rayburn is hitting .457 against left handed pitching this season. Jeff Francis throws the baseball with his left hand.
The only thing more ridiculous than Gibbon’s management this week is the fact that the Cleveland Indians play in a ballpark called Progressive Field. Very progressive Cleveland.
Speaking of ridiculous ballparks, the dimensions of Fenway Park need to be quickly touched on. I love that all diamonds don’t have a standard dimension, as it creates great discussion around what a player could hit in different parks, and aesthetically makes the game more enjoyable. But Fenway, even with all of its charm is a ridiculous ball park. Take a look at its dimensions:
The fact that a homerun can be hit at 302 feet or 310 feet for hitters who pull in either direction is comical. Typically teams will have one short porch, not two of them. If Jose Bautista played his career in Boston he would be considered the greatest player in the modern area, as he has hit .342 with an OPS of 1.208 over the past three seasons.
Quick Hitters from the week:
- Kevin Pillar has been up to his old tricks, and making us quickly forget about Melky Cabrera:
- Travis continues to be solid defensively and outstanding at the plate. In Boston he feasted on pitchers missing their spots to jack a home run and have a solid series, while yesterday he hit his first career grand slam.
- Is it possible the Jays will have the rookie of the year in Travis, and the MVP in Donaldson and miss the playoffs?
- Aaron Sanchez continues to battle to find the strike zone, but is clearly getting more comfortable out there. In each of his last three starts he has settled in for periods where he has kept the ball over the plate and almost unhittable.
- Delabar is rejoining the club this week. I think it’s a good decision, as he can’t be worse than what we have experienced so far
- Sending down Pompey seems like an odd move given that he has less than 100 at bats so far this season, and Jose Bautista still isn’t playing games in the outfield
This week the Jays host the Yankees for 3 games, before having a weekend series against the Red Sox. I will be in attendance for the entire Red Sox series, and will have a complete breakdown of the weekend set next week.