I’m a glass half full guy, so instead of chatting up the mediocre outing of Dana Eveland (6.2 IP, 8 hits, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K) or the lack of offensive output by the Jays (5 hits and 2 walks), I’d like to examine the impact that Fred Lewis (.245) could have if his bat continues to come alive. Fred had 3 of the Jays hits as he hit his 4th double of the season.
Fred is just getting acclimated to AL pitching and their quirks, so he hasn’t started stealing bases yet, but what he has started to do is get on base – the key first part of the stolen base equation. In his last 10 games, Fred is hitting .275 (11 for 40) and has 1 walk and 1 SB. The Jays have been facing some pretty heady pitching lately, so for Fred to accomplish this while getting used to leading off and also getting used to the AL is impressive. I have a feeling that Fred is seeing the ball fine and is gaining the confidence of the coaches at the top of the lineup. In order for his to keep his job, Fred will have to bring his OBP up to par with the role (his career OBP is .352, so I’m sure it won’t be long before he gets his current OBP of .288 up a good amount).
With Fred starting to fit in at the top of the lineup, some believe that Darin Mastroianni’s potential roel with the Jays may be in jeopordy and that the Jays could decide to go another route or slow is arrival time in Toronto substantially. 1 Blue Jays Way completed a good interview with Darin and touched on the subject of his arrival, stating:
“It has been 10 years since we had a true threat on the basepaths and we miss seeing the pressure that players like Darin put on the defense. Now that the big club acquired / stole Fred Lewis from the Giants, Darin’s path to the bigs may be slowed down a little. No matter, we still have a lot of love for the man who we feel will eventually replace Vernon in centrefield…..”
I’m not sure the Jays will ever have a “replacement” for Vernon since his contract pretty much assures he’ll remain in the Jays OF for the next few years at a minimum, and I certainly hope Mastroianni gets a shot in 2011 or 2012 at a maximum. That brings up one impending dilemma. If Darin Mastroianni, Moises Sierra, or even Jake Marisnick ever prove they deserve a shot in the Jays OF, who will be the odd man out if Fred Lewis does as well as is expected in LF? The Lewis-Wells-Snider combination seems strong, but would it be better with Mastroianni in CF, Wells in RF, and Snider in LF? I think that it would so long as Darin is getting on base at an average rate. With Adam Lind as the permanent DH, where would Fred Lewis fit in? Or how about Moises Sierra?
It seems crazy to me that the Jays could actually have a log jam in the outfield after so many years of mediocrity in the OF from the likes of Reed Johnson, Frank Catalanatto and company (big fan of Johnson’s, he just had a low ceiling). It’s refreshing to have someone like Fred Lewis who bring a ton of athleticism to the OF and seems to be finding a form that can make the Jays a whole lot better. We’ll see where that takes him, and whether Alex decides to use him as a trade chip if his value skyrocket because I definitely think Alex Anthopolous will look into his trade value as the season moves along after getting him for peanuts. However, I sure like the impact he can have once he gets on base and how he can change the speed of the game so quickly. Let’s hope his recent warming up continues to build!