Blue Jays potentially selling their best outfielder would be a shit start to the offseason

The addition of Chase Anderson seemed like a smart, if not uninspired start to the Blue Jays offseason. Now, with Atkins revealing he’s willing to sell Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for pitching, the bullshit train is back in Toronto. Toot, toot, all aboard!

On this week’s episode of “How will Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro alienate the fanbase further” the GM (Atkins), likely under direction from or approved by President (Shapiro), has let it leak that they are willing to shop Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for starting pitching. Before anyone gets their back up about this let’s get things straight.

Yes, I understand that with Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, and Rowdy Tellez the starting infield is set and Gurriel, if cast as an INF would be a depth guy. And, yes I understand that if you want something good you have to give something good. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s continue shitting on the front office for this piece of news.

Reclamation Project Turned Gold

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is the Blue Jay’s best outfielder. The Cuban former infielder was demoted to AAA Buffalo last season when a case of the yips had him unable to throw across the diamond, costing the Jays more than a few outs. After some reclamation time, Gurriel returned to the big league team… a solid outfielder.

His transition to left-fielder was a tactic to simplify the game for him; track pop-flys, chase down more athletic plays and throw harder from a longer distance. Instead of transitioning this back to the infield the Bisons’ coaching staff let him marinate in the outfield and in a true form of alchemy turned a good offensive/iffy defensive infielder into a high upside/ strong defensive outfielder – exactly what the Jays lack.

Why the hell would you trade one problem area to fix anther problem area?! As it stands, the Blue Jays outfield should stack up as follows LF: Gurriel Jr., CF: Grichuk, RF: McKinney/Fisher. That is far from elite, but Atkins and Shapiro acquired both right-field options and they do have a good eye for young talent (both brought in from the Astros, too).

This team needs a Lorenzo Cain or Dexter Fowler to legitimize the group and shore it up defensively with a captain-esque player. The front office can address this by dipping into the free-agent market. Forget Yasiel Puig for his hot-headedness, or Nick Castellanos for his high price tag; the Jays should add in Avisail Garcia (29), Cole Kalhoun (32), or Corey Dickerson (31), veteran players who can still contribute at an elite level while also being a part of the leadership group for this young core.

Control, Control, Control

We as Blue Jays fans fully understand how much Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro loooooooooove to pinch a penny. Cut ties with big-name players still able to help a team and meltdown the team and bring in fringe players to fill out the roster all to save some money. This has been the strategy for the Jays and it’s been hard to stomach for the most part.

On the other hand, these frugal guys should be all over keeping Gurriel Jr. due to his unreal contract and control. In 2017 he signed a seven-year deal that takes him to 2023 with value increasing from $2.93 million next season to $5.83 million in his final year of the deal.

If not for his refound form, the Jays need to keep a hold of Gurriel Jr. for his control and value deal. The hallmark of the Blue Jays team is similar to that of the Cubs a few seasons ago. They are young, extremely talented, have grown up together, and are primed to make an impact together on a major league roster. Don’t fuck this up, Shapiro and Atkins, just open your wallets for pitching instead of hemorrhaging the already thin outfield.

After an AL beat down streak, Blue Jays smack back at Twins

With the series finale slated for a matinee affair on May 2nd, the Toronto Blue Jays have seemingly bounced back after getting taught some tough lessons against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, against the Minnesota Twins.

Resilience will need to be a a key factor in the Blue Jay’s character this season if they want to hang around in the playoff race. But, as it stands the Blue Jays are doing what playoff contenders do – beat the mediocre teams and hang with the good ones.

The once thought to be strength of the Jays, the pitching rotation has shown a few chinks in the armor so far. Marco Estrada and the long ball, a tale as old as time, has been an issue this season.As well, Jaime Garcia looking for consistency in his pitching, especially against players who will make you pay. But both are nothing in comparison to the often outspoken and now under performing Marcus Stroman.

He just doesn’t have it this year – yet. Five games started, three loses, and no wins to show for it this season, Stroman is sporting a pretty damn bad ERA: 8:88. Maybe an Eric Lindros fan but more likely just an under performing pitcher, Stroman brings the heat on himself in this situation constantly talking about himself on social media. I’m not condemning the use of social media for athletes, I actually love it, but there is an expectation when you’re on it constantly talking yourself up – walk the walk, now Stroman.

I do think he’ll get it figured out, he’s simply too good not to, but the longer he takes to get his head on straight, the longer the Jays will have to wait to take another step forward.

For positives, the Blue Jays have a legit Cy Young contender on the team (so far this season, obviously). J.A. Happ, maybe the quietest player on the Jay’s roster has, quietly (how apropos) strung together ELITE numbers this year. 4-1 in 6 games started, 3.50 ERA, 12.5 strike outs/nine innings, 1.028 WHIP, and a total of 50 strike outs. Happ is pulling his weight in the rotation and setting a terrific example of veteran talent making an impact.

To go along with team resiliency, the Blue Jays have plugged players in for injured or under performing starters and had really positive results. Donaldson on the DL, Grichuk on the DL, Travis demoted to the minors, Gift Ngope not earning his spot on the bench, all have been mitigated by squad players stepping up and producing.

The infield is comfortably being patrolled by Smoak a stalwart and everyday first baseman, 2nd base covered by rookie call up Lourdes Gurriel jr. who is comfortably settling in the big leagues, Aledmys Diaz playing almost everyday at SS, Yangervis Solarte being a productive and serviceable 3rd baseman, while Teoscar Hernandez, another young call, up has cemented himself on the big league club.

They Jay’s aren’t bad – a point I will continue to stress as long as they keep proving me right. I never thought they would be, but I did think that they would have had to rely on three players to have big season: Travis to reestablish himself after injury layoff, Donaldson to prove himself in a contract year, and Grichuk to prove the Cardinals wrong for moving on from him. All three have been bad, or injured… or both, and yet, the Jays keep producing.

Until they stop acting like they’ve been here before, the Blue Jays are ready to continue shocking the league – the most recent lesson they have learned is the importance of resilience, and at the poor old expense of the Twins, too!

 

Jays Lose First Series Of The Season

The bubble has popped, the bandwagon is losing members, and the season is over – The Toronto Blue Jays have lost their first series of the season.

Wait. Its just April, and its still five full series that they hadn’t lost. Things are actually pretty damn good in Blue Jays land right now, and the problems they have should be reasonable enough to over come!

The Jays had two issue that rared their head in this second four game series against the Yankees, one a surprise and the other a condition of their random offence: starting pitching, and men left on base.

As far as pitching goes, Toronto is missing a big piece of the puzzle which is Marcus Stroman. Yet to win a game this season, Stroman is taking a lot of heat for being more focused on his personal brand over his pitching abilities. Sure, height doesn’t measure heart, but earned runs will kill a starting pitchers confidence – and Stroman is leading the team in earned runs and has posted a 8.55 ERA.

He looked better in his last start but ‘looked better’ isn’t providing results for the Jays. Stroman is the ultimate competitor and wants to be winning baseball games, but until he starts doing that he isn’t going to be playing on a playoff contending team.

Outside of Stroman, Estrada has been a concern. He has a 5.32 era and has the narrative of nagging back issues constantly being brought up. He has been saved in his win/loss record by late game pushes by his teams offence, but hasn’t given his team a chance to win on a regular basis. Biagini was solid in his spot start and provides the Jays an option if Estrada’s back issues flair up, but a good Marco is better than a good Biagini.

As far as offence goes, Toronto has nothing to complain about from their team. No one really thought they would be playing for much this season, but now it seems like the Jays want to make it to the post season. The biggest issue that should get rectified sooner rather than later is men left on base. The Jays rank 6th in men left on base with a per-game average of 6.76. In their last three games against the Yankees this bloated to 7.67.

It’s an issue that has seemed to follow the Jay’s around in recent years. It was a symptom of the home run dependent offence they had relied on for so long. That is why I am not too too concerned about it at this point. The home runs will still come, but the success Toronto has had this season was around getting on base, and getting clutch hits. Not to mention taking walks, stealing bases, and moving runners forward. To remedy the men left on base stick to what you know – hard hit balls and not trying to push everything out of the stadium. Capitalize on the damn shift, too!

Two big ole’ bright spots are Teoscar Hernandez (yes, still), and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Teoscar has improved his HR count to three in just eight games this season, and has 10 RBIs. He is really really potent right now for the Blue Jays and adds pop to the #2 spot in the order with Donaldson out. No chance he gets sent down when Donaldson gets back off the DL – looking at you Randal Grichuk.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr., a name few are too familiar with is the brother of the Gurriel in Houston who just won the World Series. The 24-year old infielder from Cuba was nestled right behind Vlad jr. and Bo Bichette on Toronto’s farm system rankings and got the call up in game two of this series. Hitting in the nine spot, Gurriel nabbed two hits and three RBIs in his first game. He is hitting .273 avg in eleven appearances. Yet another bright spot in the youth department for Toronto.

Almost a month into the season Toronto sits second in the AL East with a 13-6 record, 1.5 games up on the Yankees. With some stable performances Toronto can absolutely continue on this track of possible post season success!