Yesterday’s tremendous team effort win was outstanding and exactly what this team needed after such tough losses on their recent road trip. However, it was a tale of 2 huge stories for the Jays that go from the very bad, to the so very good.
THE VERY BAD
If the Jays had hoped to see a full season of healthy play from Aaron Hill at 2B in order to better assess whether or not they’ll pick up his 2012/2013 options at the end of the season, they may be out of luck. He seemed to hurt his hamstring in yesterday’s game while stealing 2nd base and was replaced in the game by John McDonald. The Jays are calling it “Right Hamstring Tightness”, but looking at his expression when he tried to stand on 2nd base, it seems to be fairly serious in nature and is at the least “worrisome”. He had issues getting to a standing position, and struggled to walk off the field on his own accord.
What makes me think that this injury may be a little more serious is that he was struggling all of the spring with a right quadricep injury. He seemed to shake that off enough to steal 5 bases before last night’s 6th steal of the year, but putting such strain on his leg after likely treating it lightly for the majority of spring training seems to have weakened the hamstring. Now, the majority of his right leg is an issue and this is the type of thing that usually lingers, and comes and goes, the entire season until it can be rested enough to fully heal.
So what happens now? I’m not sure whether or not Hill will land on the DL, but either way, the Jays have to start looking at their alternatives. Mike McCoy was taken out of the Las Vegas game last night after 1 AB, likely due to a call up with the Jays. That would resolve the 2B/Bench issue short term as both McCoy and McDonald, as well as Nix, can play the position. However, there’s one more detail that I’d like to throw out there as a possibility.
Brandon Wood was just designated by the Angels and is out of options, meaning that much like the Jays were forced to deal David Purcey, the Angels are now forced to look for a deal for Wood within 10 days or risk losing him for nothing as he passes through waivers. Adding Wood to the roster, even if for a short stint, does have its merits, as I previously pointed out here.
How does Wood make sense for the Jays? Well, first and foremost, he’s a buy low candidate that Alex Anthopoulos has been known to seek in deals. Also, he can play SS as well as 3B, two positions where the Jays could use some help if Hill is on the mend long term. As we’ve stated on JJ numerous times, the Jays are going to have to make a decision at some point to who stays, and who goes between Yunel Escobar and , because will soon (2012-2013) inherit the SS position (or 2B). Therefore, moving Escobar there for short periods between now and that time can allow the Jays to take a look at whether or not he can man 2B at a high level, or whether they should move Hechavarria there in the minors in preparation for a call up at 2B in the future.
So, adding Brandon Wood as a short-term SS and moving Yunel Escobar to 2B while Hill is out allows the Jays to see how things evolve. Wood doesn’t have to – and likely wouldn’t – play full time, but I’d love to see whether or not the Jays and Dwayne Murphy can change his approach at the plate enough to turn him around.
The Jays already have a good trading relationship with the Angels as made evident by the Vernon Wells deal. If the Jays do see any value whatsoever in bringing Wood in for a look, they could easily have a deal in place with the Angels. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him added to the Jays and will be disappointed if he doesn’t get that shot to prove himself elsewhere and winds up in the minors instead. He likely won’t cost very much, and in return, the Jays would get quite a bit of potential if they can turn him around.
As for Hill, if he can deal with that leg and get it healthy before end June by taking some time off, he should do so. Anything less could seriously jeopordize his contracts and could wind up with a move to another squad in short order. When the Jays have to decide whether he is worth the $16 million for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, they’d like to see him play as much as possible. I’m not really sure what to expect in terms of his contract with the Jays now that he seems to get injured so frequently. The Choices?
- Pick up his 2012 and 2013 options at the end of the 2011 season and owe Hill $8 million per season, after which he becomes a FA.
- Pick up only his 2012 option and let him walk as a FA after that season.
- Or, let him walk after 2011 is over and garner what would surely be Type A picks (2 picks) if and when he signs elsewhere.
I do believe that things would have to be pretty ugly from now to the end of the season for the Jays to allow Hill to walk after the season is over. However, I’m also not so sure that they’ll be willing to guarantee him $16 million over 2 years. We’ll see how it plays out, but it’s an interesting story line this season that allows for a deeper look into what the future holds for the Jays. After all, if they truly see Adeiny Hechavarria as the SS of the future, one of Escobar or Hill needs to go….right?
Just as another note, the Jays have just over $31 million committed in salary in 2012, which would jump to $39 million if the Hill option is picked up for that season. They also have 12 arbitration eligible players including 6 that are eligible for the first time (Carlson, Cecil, Reyes, Nix, Snider, and Richmond), 3 that are eligible for the 2nd time (Escobar, Morrow, and Litsch), and 3 that are eligible for the 3rd time (Villanueva, Janssen, and McGowan). The biggest raises will likely go to Morrow, Villanueva, and Escobar, but none of these should push the Jays to big heights. What this tells us is that the Jays definitely have the cash to keep Hill around, and I expect them to do so in hopes that he provides full and productive seasons…so long as he is healthy the majority of 2011. (all figures above courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts)
THE SO VERY GOOD
Travis Snider needs to perform for the 2011 Jays to succeed. That much most Jays fans agree on. Well, last night he showed big time emotion by breaking a bat over his leg after a strike out with the bases loaded in the 6th inning, and got a shot at redeeming himself – and did exactly that – with a double in extras to win the game for the Jays.
The reason this is so very good is not only due to the implications of the Jays beating the Yankees in extras or getting back on a winning track in general, but it lies in the fact that this hit and showing of emotion could be the turning point Snider needed this season. After such a slow start that even had me wondering whether the Jays would consider sending him to AAA at some point this season, he needs such a turnaround to not only prove what he can do, but also to make sure that he keeps his job. After all, if Brett Lawrie can’t handle D at 3B long term, LF is the one alternative left for him defensively.
Now that Snider has a huge positive to go on, has finally cut loose some of the tension he felt after some early season struggles, I fully expect that he’ll continue to build up to what should be a successful 2011 for him. He has already shown off some of his newfound speed and glimpses of his tremendous power, so if he can simply make better contact and get on base more often, he’ll become a force to be reckoned with very soon. Could Snider actually wind up being a 5-tool player if he continues to steal so many bases? It’s food for thought.
OTHER JAYS NOTES
2011 Attendance Levels Looks Great so Far
To compare the Jays 2010 and 2011 season attendance levels in Toronto through April 19th, I’ll break it down to a per game level.
- 2009 - 1st game played in Toronto on April 6th. Total attendance through games = 154,393 which averages out to 22,056 per game.
- 2010 – 1st game played in Toronto on April 7th. Total attendance through 8 home games = 136,368 which averages out to 17,046 per game.
- 2011 – 1st game played in Toronto on April 1st. Total attendance through 7 home games = 178,222 which averages out to 25,460 per game.
If the pace of attendance in 2011 holds steady, the Jays will have a season of more than 2,000,000 fans, which is better than 2000-2005, or 2009. But, since the Jays are likely to see a boost in fans as the summer goes along and school lets out, they could be expected to attract more fans than the close to 2.4 million fans they attracted to games in 2008 – the most they have had since 1998.
What we can tell for certain is that fans may be buying into the Jays now more than ever. It could be the plan that Alex Anthopoulos has in place, the emergence of the Jays as a power house in 2010, the idea that the Jays have more of a chance to win than either the Raptors or Leafs, or that the opponents were better in 2010. But, the fact remains that more people are going to games. At least 3,000 more per game than there were in 2009, and at least 8,000 more per game than in 2010.
What happens between now and the end of the season is unknown, but if the trend continues to hold and the Jays do wind up with 2.5 million or more fans going through the turngates in 2011, you can expect to see a fairly nice jump in money invested in the team for the 2012 season and beyond. This is an interesting thing to note due to the upcoming 2011 MLB Amateur Draft and international FA period, where the Jays could decide to invest even more money than initially decided on if attendance levels continue to rise.
It’s encouraging to see that many fans going to games in Toronto so early in the season. Keep it up, and the product on the field is sure to continue to improve.
- Niuman Romero and Danny Farquhar have been assigned to AAA Las Vegas;
- With Jesse Litsch heading to AAA Las Vegas, the Jays have sent Yohan Pino down to AA New Hampshire;
- Dumas Garcia and Casey Beck have been assigned to HiA Dunedin from AA New Hampshire; and
- Aaron Loup was assigned to HiA Dunedin from Lansing.
Pacific Coast League Leaders
Here’s a run down on some interesting stats from the Jays AAA Affiliate:
- Eric Thames (.434) is 5th in Average while Brett Lawrie (.392) is 15th;
- Although the Jays are preaching speed at the major league level, it hasn’t translated to LV, where Lawrie leads the team with only 2 SBs to his credit.
- Brad Mills (0.82 ERA) is 7th in ERA while also having the most innings pitched with 22 to his credit and is 2nd in Ks with 17;
- Thames (1.236) is 6th in OPS in the PCL, while Lawrie (1.054) is 17th;
- Thames (8) is 2nd in the league in doubles, while Lawrie (6) is tied for 3rd; and finally
- While his stats are ugly (5.69 ERA with 1.89 Whip), Rommie Lewis leads the PCL with 4 saves.