Over at BP Toronto, Gideon Turk has an excellent piece up about the second base “solution” for the Blue Jays that everybody but the dunces in the front office seems to have figured out: Jason Leblebijian!
His point — and it’s a good one (one that Drew mentioned on the most recent Birds All Day, in fact) — is that maaaaaaaybe there are reasons the front office isn’t rushing into the belief that their big league club can be helped by a guy who had stints in Low-A Lansing in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, and didn’t reach Double-A until last season, when he was 25. He brings up the case of Jim Negrych, who had great numbers in Buffalo thanks to a tremendous April of 2013 (he hit .429/.486/.683 that month, then saw his OBP drop to .375 in May, .359 in June, .302 in July, and then .271 in August), and was howled for by many Jays fans (and Buffalo reporters) despite being… y’know… bad.
In 2014, despite all the big league clamor for him the year before, Negrych ended up in the independent Atlantic League, and eventually Taiwan. (He’s now an assistant coach at Pitt, assuming his Linkedin profile is up to date).
But this isn’t a post about Jim Negrych. Gideon’s is a post about Jim Negrych (sort of)! You should go read it. And when you do go and read it, if you’re like me, this is probably what’s going to actually jump out at you:
While the Blue Jays are looking for trade partners to fix their second base situation, it just isn’t possible at the moment. A club source said that they are trying to focus on buying players to help fill the holes in left field, second base, and in the bullpen, but instead are getting calls on Roberto Osuna (the Nationals keep trying) and Josh Donaldson (the Cardinals are one of those teams). The Blue Jays had internal discussions about New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker according to the same source, but now that he has been placed on the disabled list with a torn left hamstring, those conversations are moot until at least the All-Star Break. All of these trade discussions are in their preliminary stages, as most deals won’t be consummated until the end of July, so that really leaves the Blue Jays with only one other option to Barney and Goins, and that is in the form of Jason Leblebijian.
Some thoughts on this collection of nuggets:
- First off, good for the Cardinals! Say what you will about how their self-imposed reputation for having the best fans in baseball is bullshit and how they can, as an organization, kinda fuck right off, you can’t say that they don’t know how to identify talent! And, I mean, because he just had Tommy John we’re going to need more than just Alex Reyes, but I guess it’s a start…
- Secondly, sorry, Nats! We’re just going to make Osuna a starter and keep him.
- Third, hey, the Jays are actually as concerned about second base as you are! I’ve seen the odd fan bleating about front office inaction on this front — MAKE A TRADE ALREADY!!!! — which is always the first sign that somebody has never actually contemplated the steps that making a trade actually requires.
- Fourth, why did I decide to number all these bullet points?
- Fifth, Neil Walker, eh? That’ll do! Or, at least, that would do, were it not for the fact that he’s hurt at the moment. The Mets are currently 31-37, and probably too hurt to realistically climb back into the race (though, to be fair, I probably wouldn’t say that about the Jays if that was their record). Walker will be a free agent at season’s end, and because he was given a qualifying offer last season, he’s not eligible to get one again (i.e. the Mets won’t lose out on a draft pick if they deal him). He’s also a fine enough defensive second baseman — his 2016 UZR (which was in the positive for the first time in his career, way up at 9.3) seems to be an outlier that powered him to an unsustainable 3.7 WAR season; he’s mostly been a shade below average by DRS, and UZR has liked him less — and a pretty damned nice hitter. He’s a switch hitter who posted a 122 wRC+ last year and is at 118 this season and 115 for his career. With Devon Travis possibly out for the season, that sure as hell works, and probably doesn’t break the ol’ prospect bank either.
- Sixth… uh… hey, so it’s Barney and Goins for the foreseeable future, eh? That’s… dispiriting. I guess we just have to remind ourselves that it felt for a while there that Barney was doing OK and at least giving the club some decent at-bats, and that Goins has certainly had his share of timely hits already (despite being, ugh, almost half a win below replacement level so far this year). People are always trying to find ways to get Goins regular playing time, and earlier this year silly things were being whispered about what the club should do with Devon Travis as he went 0-for-April. It wasn’t so long ago that these two didn’t seem at least somewhat viable. So… fingers crossed they get themselves back to that kind of spot quick!
- Seventhly, the front office obviously understands that left field is a problem, too. Anybody who pretends otherwise, just because they’ve yet to find the perfect piece to fix the problem for the perfect price, can’t be told enough how utterly clueless they are.
We’re six weeks away from the trade deadline, and I think this is it. It’s official. Bullshit season has finally arrived! LET’S DO THIS!