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Photo Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

John Gibbons Said a Thing About Left Field

It’s far enough away from the point where they have to make a decision that you can give the Blue Jays a little bit of leeway for saying completely ridiculous things about the look of their roster’s deepest pits of despair. They may not have completely lost the plot so much as they’re trying to say the right things to keep everybody happy and motivated in camp. So I hesitate to lose my shit too much over a thing like what John Gibbons said today about the club’s left field situation.

And yet… this remains a little tough to swallow:

The “right now” in there is comforting because, as has been discussed ad nauseam around these parts, Melvin and ol’ Zeke do not make a viable platoon. For the sake of completeness, though, let me once again point out that Carrera’s wRC+ against right-handers over his last three seasons and 451 plate appearances is 75.

Oh, but here’s something that will be sure to lift your tired fucking spirit!

Ugggggh.

That’s… uh… not exactly inspiring. I mean, I get that the club is probably looking to wring as much value as possible out of the money the Padres are paying Upton, and I get that the if he’s playing well caveat is important here, but holy shit: Upton’s last three seasons and 996 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers produced a wRC+ of 76.

Over the last three years, among the 163 right-handed hitters with at least 450 plate appearances against right-handed pitching, Upton’s 76 wRC+ ranks 27th worst.

Over the last thee years, among the 173 left-handed hitters with at least 450 plate appearances against right-handed pitching, Carrera’s 75 wRC+ ranks 14th worst.

On one hand this should mean it won’t be difficult for Dalton Pompey to win the job, or to convince Ángel Pagán that this is a situation worth signing a minor league contract for, but on the other: how is there not even a better contingency plan here??? As far as contingency plans go, having Upton or Carrera face right-handers is piss poor. As far as front line plans go, it’s total fucking insanity, no matter how much value we’re to believe they bring with their gloves.

Over the last three years, the free agent Pagán has posted a 100 wRC+ against right-handers. That’s not especially great… until you remember that it’s 25 points of wRC+ better than both of the Jays’ current options! Or that Pagán’s on-base percentage against right-handers (.330) over that span is twenty-five points better than Carrera’s and more than fifty points better than Upton’s. Or that his strikeout rate (12.9%) in the split is mind-bendingly more comforting than Carrera’s (22.2%) or Upton’s (29.3%).

I get that there might be some super special knowledge that the front office has and we don’t that might change the equation slightly here, and I get that they may want Pompey to win the job but don’t want to tell him they want to win the job. Shit, I even get that they might have honest-to-god hope that Justin Smoak turns his batted ball profile into a Freddie Freeman-like season (Freeman being the most comparable hitter to Smoak, according to Jeff Sullivan’s slice of tepid optimism at FanGraphs this week), and that Pearce becomes available for more left field duty than seems plausible. But the truly fucked up thing is, hoping on Smoak seems like it might even be less batshit than hoping to find a viable hitter against right-handers among Upton and Carrera! THINK ABOUT THAT!

There is, we must keep telling ourselves, plenty of time still for this all to be sorted out. Dalton Pompey slashed a tasty (if power-free) .281/.360/.373 against right-handers in Buffalo last year, so it’s not like the position is a total black hole. But maybe give us something! Or maybe — just maybe — don’t piss in our mouths and tell us it’s raining.