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Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Embracing the Status Quo: What the 2018 Blue Jays Might Plausibly Look Like

I wrote last week for the Athletic about why the best way forward for the Blue Jays doesn’t include a rebuild, arguing that “a team projected to be .500 doesn’t need to play very far over its head to become a playoff contender — especially if it does so in the first four months of the season, putting its front office in a position to strengthen the roster at the trade deadline,” and that “the 2018 version of the club — if the front office keeps most of its players already under contract, and fills in the gaps this winter using money coming off the books — will still have more than enough talent in place to make such a run at least plausible.”

This is a truth that’s recognized, I think, by most people on the rebuild/retool divide — with the rational among those preferring a bigger rebuild (as opposed to the mewling burn-it-down Catharsis? My arse is capable of more flush pisspods) arguing that such measures won’t go far enough to ensure a great future, and that the Jays may well end up with the club stuck in the middle.

Fair enough. But let’s think this all through a little bit deeper. We all know what the torched hellscape of a full-on rebuild would look like — though I think some of us are a little too optimistic about the bounty of prospect riches or quick turnaround it would bring — but what about the 2018 Blue Jays if the club did precisely what it seems like they’re going to do and more or less stayed the course?

Here’s what I see:

C

Russell Martin has a .380 on-base this year. He’ll be a year older and isn’t the least injury-prone player in the world, but with him the 2018 Jays should still be the envy of a whole lot of teams behind the plate. I can live with that. And if he does well but the team doesn’t, he’s on the books for just one more season after 2018, and if the Jays were willing to eat a little money, might legitimately be worth something in a mid-2018 sell-off. That’s still a long way off, but… y’know?

1B

Justin Smoak is a damn All-Star on a cheap contract. Maybe we shouldn’t tempt fate by thinking about this one too much, but there’s an honest chance they’re OK here. Perhaps an even-better-than-honest chance. And like Martin, Smoak is controllable through 2019 (he has a club option) for rather cheap and could maybe fetch something decent next July, if he keeps it up and the team doesn’t.

2B

You’d almost certainly want to find a better-than-replacement-level backup for Devon Travis (perhaps Lourdes Gurriel by then?), but I wonder if we should be quite as uncomfortable with the Jays’ second baseman’s injury history as we generally are. On one hand, past injury is the best way to predict future injury, and Travis has certainly had his troubles in that regard since arriving in Toronto. The fact that his knee has taken so long to get right is a not-insignificant concern. But on the other, in his Blue Jays career he’s really only had two issues: the recurring knee problem, and an problem with his shoulder caused by bones that didn’t fuse properly when he was young. With Erie in the Tigers’ system in 2014 he lost a month to an oblique injury, too, but otherwise, including his career at Florida State, seems to have managed to be rather healthy. I’m not saying the injury stuff isn’t a concern, I just wonder if it’s maybe a little bit overblown. Let’s not give up on the guy. Let’s, in fact, see his being here as the positive that it is.

SS

Uhhhhhhh… yeah. Troy Tulowitzki is going to be here for a while, so we might as well get used to it — and get used to the fact that we’re probably going to have to keep playing the following sorts of games: Though his numbers look very shortstop-like this season, since mid-June he’s posted a 118 wRC+. He also finished last year strong (a 115 wRC+ from his mid-June return from the DL to the end of the season), and while his defence has looked ugly according to the metrics this year (and perhaps even the eye test), he was positively Tulo-esque in 2016 (+10 DRS, +5 UZR). The older he gets and the more DL trips he makes (two more and the next one’s free!) the harder it gets to believe stuff like this is going to bounce back, but… maybe? It’s not entirely crazy.

3B

Says here “Josh Donaldson.” Oh, shit, this infield is actually maybe kinda good.

DH

Kendrys Morales has belted 16 home runs in the first half, some of which — mostly earlier in the season — came at rather opportune times and perhaps masked the fact that he’s been kinda bad. To make a horrific dated reference to an embarrassing movie to admit ever having watched, it’s like Justin Smoak has stolen Kendrys’ mojo. If you’d have told me before the season that Kendrys would have Smoak’s first half numbers and Smoak would have Kendrys’ first half numbers, I’d have absolutely believed you — and I think most Jays fans would have as well. Which says something about what Kendrys might still be able to do… though his posting some of the worst numbers of his career in terms of walk rate, strikeout rate, and wRC+ are pretty hard to defend.

Hey, but if he doesn’t come around it’s not like it’s a tough position to fill or all that difficult a contract to swallow, either — especially if you give it 365 days. I’ll still bet the over, though.

LF

Did you know that the Chinese use the same word for “crisis” as they do for “opportunity”? (Yes, crisitunity!)

Blue Jays left fielders so far in 2017 are 16th by wRC+, 30th by FanGraphs’ defensive component of WAR, and 28th by total WAR. Maybe… uh… it’s better to sacrifice some bat for some glove here, eh? One of Dalton Pompey, Anthony Alford, or Lourdes Gurriel should be able to provide enough glove here to offset the difference between their bat and the 95 wRC+ Blue Jays outfielders have put up this season. In fact, they may even be able to exceed that number.

Hey, it’s no crazier than the plan the club went into this season with, and they looked like legit-ish contenders!

CF

Maybe another off-season of work will help Kevin Pillar rediscover those changes he seems to have forgotten since April. Or maybe his glove will bounce back and make it so his bat doesn’t matter quite so much. He’ll be OK. Or maybe he could bring back something decent in trade — something worth exploring since, unlike just about every other position, the Jays actually have a couple guys knocking on the door (or about to be) behind him.

RF

OK, so here’s where the Jays are probably going to have to look outside of the organization. José Bautista is a legend, but he’s also a DH. He’s also all but certainly going to end up a free agent. The good news is that Bautista has been worth fewer than two wins over his last 200 games. And even though, yes, we’re only talking about upgrading on a team that’s already “not good enough,” we’re also only talking about upgrading to “plausible contender.” Maybe the Jays use the trade market to find a player who can play there a long time. Or maybe they just find a body with some upside.

It would help if one of the guys mentioned as left field options could play the other corner, but I’m not sure about that. Even if not, though, some reasonably-priced right field options will be out there: Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Gonzalez, and Seth Smith are free agents, not to mention costlier options like J.D. Martinez, Lorenzo Cain, or Jarrod Dyson. And there are a few guys who’ll be entering their final contract year that might work via trade: Nick Markakis, Hunter Pence, and theoretically A.J. Pollock or Charlie Blackmon (who, let’s be honest, are probably about as realistic as Bryce Harper — another option, theoretically).

Bench

I think Gurriel fits here — maybe not from Opening Day, but at least eventually. They probably find a cheap backup catcher who might eventually give way to Danny Jansen (or at least should in 2019). Goins is still under contract, and with the injury history of the Jays’ starters up the middle, he’ll possibly stick around — though he hits arbitration for the first time this winter and maybe the extra half million dollars will make him a non-tender guy and he’ll be replaced by someone more… uh… capable. Ezequiel Carrera still has two more trips through arbitration left, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him back, at least as some kind of insurance if they really do go young in left — and especially if they go young in both corners. Steve Pearce has a 158 wRC+ since the start of May, and so maybe he stays as a bench bat and a guy who could fill in for Smoak or Morales (and maybe steal some at-bats from them if they struggle) — but holy shit, certainly not as an outfielder. On the other hand, while I like him, Pearce already feels like he’s surplus to requirements and if the Jays could flip him between now and next March for some pitching depth, it wouldn’t surprise me if they did (it would surprise me if they didn’t). And so maybe this is eventually Rowdy Tellez? I dunno.

Rotation

Marcus Stroman. Aaron Sanchez. And, unless they’re blown away by some kind of trade offer in the next couple weeks, J.A. Happ. That’s a fine starting point for a rotation. A really good one, even.

I’d love to say that we could possibly add Roberto Osuna to the list, but I suspect the Jays won’t abide such a request. Joe Biagini will likely get stretched out again next spring, even though his time as a starter this year diiiiiiiiidn’t go so great.

Also not going great: the years of Sean Reid-Foley, Conner Greene, and Jon Harris in New Hampshire. Those guys still have bright futures, of course — they’re not the first pitchers to struggle in their first tastes of Double-A (the second for Greene) and they won’t be the last — but the Jays can’t expect them to ride in and save their rotation next year. At least not without something seriously clicking for one or two of them in the second half or next spring. The club could, however, consider moving them for more immediate help, but… yeah… it seems that’s kinda how we got into this situation in the first place.

Maybe move one of them though? To a non-contender? For a guy with a year or two left, instead of their six? It’s possible, but I tend to think that they won’t. So it’s likely that, again, that the Jays will look to the free agent market to find a couple bodies with some upside for their rotation. I like to fantasize that one might even be a guy they’re rather familiar with, who will be hitting free agency after a rough year, and not especially in long-term demand, but with a quite nice track record in 2015 and 2016: Marco Estrada.

If you’re not exactly keen on another Estrada season, I can’t blame you after his last couple of months. And maybe the club feels the same way, too. Maybe they see another one of the options on the market as better fits. But if Marco’s going to go somewhere on a short-term deal for relatively cheap, why not here? It might even leave the Jays with enough in their budget to add an even bigger piece.

Speaking of, here’s what I wrote about the 2018 budget back in early May:

Cot’s has the Jays at $76.304 million in commitments for 2018. Add $44 million for the group of key arbitration eligibles [I calculated that arb raises should require about $24 million for Donaldson, $5 million for Stroman, and about $10 million total for Sanchez, Travis, Osuna, and Pillar] and you’re at $120 million — or, $40 million less than their current payroll ($43 million less, to be exact).

That accounts for 13 players: Tulowitzki, Martin, Donaldson, Happ, Morales, Pearce, Smoak, Stroman, Pillar, Osuna, Travis, Sanchez, and Lourdes Gurriel.

They then have three arbitration-eligible players who are non-tender candidates — Ezequiel Carrera (making $1.1 million in 2017), Aaron Loup ($1.2 million), and Ryan Goins ($550K) — and in this scenario would be filling out the rest of the roster with guys making the league minimum.

If they keep all three, which seems dubious (*COUGH* non-tender Loup *COUGH*), even with their raises and pre-arb guys the number we’re looking at is more like $130 million.

My lack of faith in Loup aside, those are still the numbers we’re basically looking at for next season.

The current payroll over $163 million, and maybe could go even higher, leaving something like $30 to $35 million to spend. That’s not great — none of this is great! — but it’s certainly workable. And there are all kinds of interesting and perfectly serviceable-ish names (or better!) that will hit free agency that might jump at the chance to get in on this situation, crazy as that may sound to the kinds of fans who’ve decided everything is awful here. For example:

Jaime Garcia, Andrew Cashner, Matt Garza, Trevor Cahill, Jason Vargas, Michael Pineda, Jhoulys Chacin, Lance Lynn, Jeremy Hellickson, Scott Feldman (a damn 3.95 ERA in 102.2 innings for the Reds!), Clayton Richard, Tyler Chatwood, Jesse Chavez (I know, I know), Derek Holland, Brandon Morrow (WHAT DO YOU MEAN HE’S A RELIEVER NOW? DO IT!), Wade Miley, Miguel Gonzalez, and more.

The top of the class — Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Johnny Cueto, Alex Cobb, etc. — is surely out of the question, but… uh… a lot of pitchers out there who probably wouldn’t require too much of the $35 million or so that the Jays may have to spend. Francisco Liriano, too, if we want to get real deep into doubling-down fan fiction here!

Bullpen

Other than Joe Smith, the bullpen is going to come back intact in 2018, with a bunch of interesting pieces starting to bubble up from the minors, too. Should be fine!

* * *

Conclusion

Is all this decidedly unsexy? Is it a whole like the path they took last winter? Well… yeah. The Jays have basically been running this playbook since Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins arrived — all to a purpose: doing what they can to win in the near term as they build their prospect pipeline.

The crucial thing to remember is that just because 2017, at this point, doesn’t look like it’s worked, it doesn’t mean 2017 couldn’t have worked. And it doesn’t mean that a team quite similar to this one, with a few tweaks, can’t work next year. No, the Jays won’t likely be a slam dunk contender in this scenario, but they also won’t disrupt the process of continuing to accumulate young and cheap talent — it just won’t infuse the minors with quite as much talent as if they went ahead and got really bad right this second.

It’s also important to remember that doing this will still provide them with opportunities to sell if 2018 looks like a dead end. Donaldson will still have value next summer, and the same is likely true of Happ, and possibly true of Smoak. Granted, it won’t be as much value as now, but those guys will also provide a lot of value to the 2017 and 2018 versions of the Blue Jays in the meantime — both literally, in terms of on the field value, as well as in terms of keeping the chance of this team being a contender alight. Which is important! And not only is it important for the brand and TV ratings and gate receipts and all the kind of stuff that fans probably shouldn’t be quite so invested in caring about, but it’s important because having a team that isn’t entirely hopeless — even if, like I say, it’s not a slam dunk contender — is a good thing. An enjoyable thing to watch. And a thing you can maybe sell free agents on as money starts coming off the books, too.

Mostly though, for me, it all comes down to this: Stroman, Sanchez, and Osuna are still cheap, and they’re controlled for three years after this one. Donaldson is an MVP and here again next year. Martin is still a top catcher. J.A. Happ won 20 games (I know) last season and is signed on for another year. Devon Travis, if he’s healthy, can be a top second baseman. Justin Smoak is an All-Star at first. Kevin Pillar probably just had a blip in the first half and is likely still an elite glove in centre. The bullpen is quite decent and staying almost entirely intact.

A lot of teams would love to have a starting point like that. I’m old enough to remember a whole lot of years between 1993 and 2015 where Jays fans would have killed to have a starting point that looked like that. Yet many now are ready to piss it away for some extra prospects and because they’re sick of looking at it.

And for what? A big rebuild offers no guarantee of success, but definitely guarantees of a lot of failure, and a lot of losing. If the 2021 Blue Jays have a bunch of young talent but not a lot of budget, because the fans and the TV ratings went away for a bunch of years, and they lack for top notch veteran teammates to help mentor them, how much farther ahead will they actually be? And how many awful seasons will we have had to endure just to get to that just-as-uncertain point as wherever we’re going now?

Appreciate what you have, Jays fans. It’s not nearly as bad or as dire as some of you think.

  • AD

    For 2018, In terms of regulars, the jays DEFINITELY need to upgrade center field, right field, and Left field. Pillar and jbats are pretty, pretty bad. I would love to move tulo but just not possible realistically. Bullpen and starting rotation will need some work too. That is if thet actually want to be good in 2018. Morales needs to hit better too, hes been a disappointment. And pray for smoak to maintain his production.

  • breasteve

    Having mentioned in a Tweet the Jays would be smart to give Gurriel time at 2B you replied with a “pump the breaks” comment. Gurriel has been injured most of first half so the more logical move is acquire a 2B or plan to give Martin time at 2B next season.
    LF – shift Pillar.
    CF – sign Cain.
    RF – hopefully Alford is ready out of ST or soon after.
    pitching – sign a few ML vets to take spots. SP would be a guy who can eat innings and without recent injuries.

    • Of course — of *course* — you are characterizing this wrong. It was early March and you were angling for him to get on track for the majors just in case, so yes, you should have been told to pump the brakes. Thanks for making me choose between looking that up or letting this nonsense stand, though!

      Pillar to LF is a terrible idea. And no, the more logical move isn’t to acquire a 2B or putting Martin there. See how Gurriel handles the next two months and maybe dot be quite so ridiculous.

      • Barry

        Yes, it’s a three step process. First, take Martin out of a position of strength and put him at a position of weakness so that we don’t have to address our deficiencies at that position by acquiring or promoting someone who can actually field there on a regular basis. Second, replace Martin behind the plate with the aging and defensively weak backup we just acquired or any number of the sterling catching prospects in our system, or sign one of the many top-notch catchers who are free agents in the offseason. Third, win the World Series.

        Duh.

  • Just Jeff

    Status quo is the most likely scenario for all of the reasons mentioned in the article. That said, I would hesitate to pencil in Alford or Gurriel yet as I believe this organization will want them to at least spend part of next season in AAA. Jansen is an intriguing catching prospect that will likely start the season in Buffalo as well. AAA depth shouldn’t be the problem next year that it’s been this year.

    I actually expect Pompey to be brought up soon. Because he got hurt in Spring Training, and since he’s only on a rehab assignment now, they can save his last of 3 options by letting him sit on the Jays’ roster for the rest of the season. Once his rehab assignment is over, the Jays can send him to Buffalo for inside of 20 days without burning his last option. I’m not sure when his rehab assignment is officially over, but I would guess it’s soon and the 20 day clock will start ticking. I can’t see the Jays burning his option for what would amount to basically 1 month of Buffalo’s season….especially since its his last option and would force the Jays to either lock him in to next year’s lineup or trade him in the offseason.

    As for the rest of the roster, can’t disagree. The bullpen looks fine and the starters need at least one arm added, but that should be doable through free agency. I worry more about Travis’ knee than you do, but he’s a top of the order hitter if healthy. I think Tulo is unmovable at this point without eating a lot of money, so there isn’t much to consider there and I’m fine with riding Smoak as long as he keeps hitting like this. Donaldson is the hot topic of debate at the moment, but he’s a lot more than fine at third base if he’s healthy. I don’t see Jays management exercising their option on Jose unless ownership steps in again.

    I’d like to see if they can move Morales in the offseason. 2 years at $22 million (approx.) should be movable, no? You won’t get much, if anything for him, but a move like that opens up at least a little roster flexibility which has been a major problem this year. Of the two, I’d rather keep Pearce.

  • Space Ghost

    Just look at the upcoming free agent classes in the next few seasons, why aren’t we dumping these WORTHLESS contracts of Tulo, Martin, and Morales? Why aren’t we going after the top tier of free agents? The Harpers and the Kershaws? It CAN happen, so WHY not do it? WHY is top tier out of the question? WHY do we ACCEPT this team acting like the Oakland A’s and the Ray’s? You KNOW why the team does it? Because WE aren’t MARCHING outside of Skydome, Sportsnet, and Rogers HQ each offseason. WE let OURSELVES ACCEPT MEDIOCRITY AND WE MUST STOP IT!

    • Barry

      WE’RE mad as hell AND we’re GOING to randomly CAPITALIZE words until we get WHAT we want!

      By the way, have you ever actually been to Rogers HQ? There’s not a heck of a lot of room to march unless you want to get hit by cars going from Jarvis to Mt. Pleasant. (It’s a pretty sharp bend there; I wouldn’t want to block traffic and hope the cars headed north could see me.) It’s also the same building as Sportsnet. We could march at Rogers Centre, but no one who actually makes payroll decisions is there, especially in the offseason. Also, marches are lame and don’t actually accomplish anything unless you do them for weeks at a time, and I’m going to have to pass on doing that. I mean, I love baseball, but I also have a life.

        • Barry

          This is a good point. Last week Shi Davidi reported that Shapiro is making decisions based on whether people are trashing Space Ghost’s posts on Bluejaysnation.com. However, there is some internal division among Jays’ brass; while some view two trashes indicates a widespread desire among the fanbase to accept mediocrity, others think that two people just think Space Ghost is a knob. At any rate, obsessing over whether people trash or cheer your post is probably not a good use of energy and may contribute to the clearly unjustifiable “knob” theory.

        • Teddy Ballgame

          Cubs fans didn’t win anything for over a freakin’ century. Boston fans dealt with crushing heartbreak for over 80. They still filled the ballpark because baseball is fun. You take this stuff way too seriously for your own good, Ghostie.

          • Glassman

            You mean having 5th highest payroll in baseball (according to CBS and steve the ump for opening day payroll) is not acting like a big market team? Then what counts as being a big market team? Top 3? Or only top spot?

        • Teddy Ballgame

          One other thought…Ghostie must have a short memory, because this fanbase most certainly rejects mediocrity. For Jays ownership had us middle of the pack payroll wise and the Jays were always in the bottom third of the league in attendance. But NOW (sorry, I can capitalize too)…NOW, when over the past three years Rogers has started to pay up, take on big contracts and trade away gobs of minor leaguers to fuel three playoff runs, two of which contained some of the most memorable moments in team history…NOW is when you think Jays fans should pick up the pitchforks and torches? After half of a bad season? Don’t fret it, sunshine. If the Jays go back to being average, the fans will stop coming, and Rogers will notice the drop in revenue and in viewing figures. Your REVOLUTION won’t be NEEDED.

          And for someone who always whinges about people telling others how they should be fans, you’re doing a pretty fine job of it yourself.

    • Sam

      You’re not dumping Tulo’s contract because he has a no trade clause. Love to see what great catcher you’ll come up with to replace Martin. All those that complain about him, just wait until you have a bad catcher(and there are a lot of them out there), you have no idea how lucky you are to have Martin. The pitchers absolutely love and trust him, he’s amazing at his job. Also Harper and Kershaw will be FA and FA have a choice, IT IS THEIR CHOICE and Toronto ain’t it. Sorry. Marching? Cause you ‘demand’ what you deem a ‘great’ baseball team. Really? How about doing that for a worthwhile cause, or maybe forget the marching and volunteer that time at a homeless shelter or a hospital.Baseball’s great but I mean, geez.

  • Jeff2sayshi

    I’m still in the camp of move JD now and maximize the prospects while status-quo-ing the rest. As good as he is, 1 person is not going to move the 2018 team (assuming it’s basically the 2017 team) from “Yeah, I can see that happening” to “nope, no way”. A rotation of Stroman/Sanchez/Happ and a couple FAs (maybe even a higher end one like Cobb, if you save money on JD arbitration) sounds good enough to dream on.

      • bartron_44

        It depends how beat up he actually still is. For all we know he has been playing through that calve problem. All these injuries will make it hard for him to get much of a raise through arbitration. I think you need to give the former MVP who has been outstanding the last 4 years a mulligan on this injury plagued season. Next year will be a contract year for him, and I have a feeling he is the kind of guy that is going to do everything he possibly can to be 100% for next season. If we are out of it next year we will still get quite a haul for a player of his caliber.

        Also, it won’t just be him gone. (Barring a major resurgence) there is a very high possibility that we don’t exercise the 17M dollar mutual option (with only a 500K buyout) on Bautista next year the way he has performed so far this season. Our offense is already among the worst in the AL, I don’t really want to trade away the guy who is most likely going to be our best hitter. Smoak has been great, but I don’t see him hitting .300 again next season. It’s not impossible, but it is highly unlikely.

  • FlareKnight

    Still sounds like selling mediocrity. But at the same time, I can see the Jays going that route. Because it’s better to at least try to sell short term hope and keep some people showing up than selling long term hope and not having people show up at all. Or at least that is a fair argument.

    In the end though it is mostly a mirage. The Jays in this incarnation can threaten at a wild card spot here and there, but probably only just threaten to stay in the conversation.

  • TorontoBaseballGuy

    As usual, good article Stoeten. I agree that the team can be on the fringe of competing while keeping the lineup as currently constituted. The one move I’m tempted to make heading to the deadline this season is to trade Smoak if a great offer comes along. The players in the final year of their contracts, really aren’t having the type of year that will pry top prospects from other teams.

    Stroman, Sanchez and Osuna are part of our rebuild, so I wouldn’t want to move them. Donaldson has great value, but hasn’t been great this year, so he doesn’t seem like a great deadline acquisition…and if he can be great, (as you alluded to) let’s have him carry the team on his back to a Wild Card spot.

    I like the idea of trading Smoak now because I think he can net a very good return in terms of prospects, helping to strengthen the reload. He also plays a position that should be filled or shared by Pearce and/or Bautista. As you noted, getting those guys away from the outfield will dramatically improve the OF defense. while potentially reducing the likelihood of them getting injured. Pearce was starting to tear it up when he hit the DL.

    Clearing outfield spots for Pompey and Dwight Smith (and hopefully Alford) is guaranteed to improve outfield defense and team speed, while adding a bit of a different look to opposing pitchers. The move also keeps Smoak off of our basepaths, which isn’t the worst thing in the world.

    Trading Smoak would help improve the longterm prospects of the club, and I have a sneaky feeling, it would better position other members of the organization to be more productive than they’ve been thus far. It would be a situation of the whole having more worth than the sum of its parts.

  • Knuckle Balls

    In a way Stoeten is 100% correct, if Jays had better Luck in April were numerous games where lost by only 1 or 2 runs, but injury bug struck as well. If Jays won 10 more games in April which is conservative estimate of winnable games lost this conversation we are currently happen would be a lot different. A lot of teams are dealing with injuries the same as the Jays or worse and appear to still be competitive or even be in the lead within their division. I just feels to me the luck is just not breaking the Jays way, like umps squeezing the strike zone on Jays pitchers (like Aaron’s start on Friday coming off the DL and Marco not getting calls down in the zone) causing them to make mistakes out over the plate with pitches. I just hope the second half is better and competitive. It was sure hard to watch the blow outs in the Huston series for sure. The Jays to me still have a very good team that can still be competitive, beside a black hole at second and left field.

  • Knuckle Balls

    In a way Stoeten is 100% correct, if Jays had better Luck in April were numerous games where lost by only 1 or 2 runs, and the injury bug struck as well. If Jays won 10 more games in April which is conservative estimate of winnable games lost this conversation we are currently having would be a lot different. A lot of teams are dealing with injuries the same as the Jays or worse and appear to still be competitive or even be in the lead within their division. It just feels to me the luck is just not breaking the Jays way, like umps squeezing the strike zone on Jays pitchers (like Aaron’s start on Friday coming off the DL and Marco not getting calls down in the zone) causing them to make mistakes out over the plate with pitches. I just hope the second half is better and competitive. It was sure hard to watch the blow outs in the Huston series for sure. The Jays to me still have a very good team that can still be competitive, beside a black hole at second and left field.

  • JonShell

    I still think we’re off by $5-10M on payroll, and I don’t think there’s a great case for spending $163M on this team next year, but this could all definitely be true and the team could be fine. I think it’s more likely that they go with less expensive replacements for the open spots, and the team is more likely less than fine. But it’s baseball, so who knows? They’re unlikely to project to be the worst team going into 2018, and look at Milwaukee. And 2019 could be amazing…

  • Steve-O

    Great stuff, and I’m on board with almost all of it. Just a couple of points:

    -I’m not giving up on this year yet. This team is still a little run of wins away from a WC spot and I continue to believe they are fully capable of it.
    -Can the Jays just find a way to keep Bautista around, please. I’m down with literally any approach that makes this happen, up to and including the unceremonious dumping of Morales – eating whatever money that would require – to open up the DH spot for him next year. And yes, I realize this is irrational, and I really don’t care. I AM AN UNAPOLOGETIC JOEY BATS FANBOY #BlueJayforlife
    -Tulo ain’t what he used to be, but you could do worse. It’s true! I can live with him at SS and we all should get used to it because he isn’t going anywhere.

  • bartron_44

    I would have to disagree on several fronts with this summary

    In no pariticular order…

    1- So Travis has “managed to be somewhat healthy”? Are you kidding me? The guys played 62 games in 2015 (73 including the minors), 101 games in 2016 (110 including the minors), and 50 games so far this season with no return date in sight. You also just bush off that his body just didn’t form properly as a kid like that is no big deal. I think the exact opposite, it sounds like a very big deal. Especially considering how much stress is put on that part of the body when swinging a bat. The Jays need to find a 2B who can hit as well as stay on the field. Preferably someone like Dee Gordon who can hit lead off and give them a threat on the base paths.

    2- DH Kendrys Morales has not been “kinda bad”. Especially when you include the context of how much he is getting paid. What exactly is wrong with 17 HR’s, 17 2B’s and 51 RBI’s with a .775 OPS with 2 and 1/2 months left to play? Sure, his K rate is up, I will give you that. He has also grounded into 15 DP’s, also not very good (but to be expected from a slow runner). He is on pace to hit around 30 HR’s, 30 2B’s and drive in around 90 runs…all for a whopping 10M bucks. For guy getting paid to drive in runs, I can live with the K’s and a low OBP. As far as DH’s go, he is actually:

    – 4th in RBI’s (ahead of Encarnacion)
    – tied for 4th in HR’s (only 2 back of Encarnacion)
    – tied for 4th in 2B’s (ahead of Encarnacion)

    He also is one of the few hitters we have actually destroying LHP to the tune of .329/.369/.557.
    Sure, he could be better. But it’s not like we gave him 20M/yr. I would say we are getting what we paid for with Morales.

    3- RF Why is Bautista a DH? He has worse numbers than Morales and gets paid almost twice as much…Do you think someone will actually want to pay him to do nothing but hit? His arm is back to its old self again, and he still makes the plays that he should. The decline isn’t in his defense, it’s in his offense. He’s no worse out there now than he was 7 years ago… If he doesn’t turn things around offensively and have a monster 2nd half, the Jays will simply decline his option for next season and let him find a new home.

    4- No way in he*# does Gurriel start the season on the bench next year (or become a bench player at any time). He will either earn an everyday job in ST, or he will be in the minors playing everyday working on his defense. ..I just don’t konw where. It was ridiculous to have him try to play SS (imo), but it looks like they have finally given up on that pipe dream. With his arm and athleticism he could end up being Bautista’s eventual replacement in RF. Especially with Bichette and Guerrero flying up the minor league system now right behind him.