Will the Jays Make Changes After Being Thumped?


Many Jays fans are in a huff and a puff about what transpired over the weekend. I’ve received emails letting me know how “wrong” my optimism about the Jays future is, and I can easily understand the frustration that Jays fans feel right now. There is nothing good to say about how the Jays played this weekend. They looked like a AA team facing a pro team, and there is no excuse for it. Every single player on that team not named Jose Bautista has to search deep down inside themselves now and come out of such a horrific display by playing better baseball. Plain and simple.

In terms of the frustration felt by Jays fans, as much as it is well founded with such bad baseball played this weekend, I also feel that it’s way overblown. Every team goes through stretches where they look unbeatable, and stretches where they look horrible. How long that stretch ends up being is what really matters. If the Jays can come out and win the next 2 or 3 series they have ahead of them, then the series against the Red Sox doesn’t really mean all that much. However, if the Orioles are able to mash against the Jays in proximity of what the Red Sox just did, then the Jays have some serious issues that may not be surmountable in 2011.

That brings me to the point of this post: what changes are going to be made in the next few weeks, and will some of these changes occur more quickly based on what transpired against the Red Sox?

I’ve come up with a list of a few changes that I feel should happen as quickly as possible, and a few others that may be a little ways down the road.

1 - Bring Travis Snider Back to Toronto

Travis Snider has found his swing of late in AAA, hitting .359/.432/.564 over his last 10 games (39 ABs), but what’s even better is that he has only struck out 3 times while walking 5 times! He’s obviously comfortable at the plate again, and just went 4 for 4 in yesterday’s game to top things off. Juan Rivera, meanwhile, hasn’t had an extra base hit since May 29th and still has a very subpar .244/.309/.344 line for the season. I really don’t care what they decide to do with Juan, but holding a bench spot for him might even be a stretch.

2 – Once Healthy, Bring Brett Lawrie to Toronto

Stop messing around, get this kid to Toronto. his lightning quick bat, speed on the bases, and grit are exactly the kinds of infusion the team needs. As much as we all love Jose Bautista, he still has that “nice guy” feel. The Jays need some bite, and Lawrie fits that persona perfectly.

3 – Call Brad Mills up to Toronto, Send Kyle Drabek to Vegas

Give Brad another shot, that’s all I’m saying here. While the Jays are waiting for Jesse Litsch to get healthy again, they need better starts than what Drabek has provided. Mills has earned another shot. He has a 2.87 ERA through 13 starts, has allowed fewer hits than IP (76 hits in 84.2IP) and has held opponents to a decent .241 average. Drabek’s temper tantrums in the clubhouse indicate just how much growing up he needs to do. Whatever he needs to do to rechannel his energy in a more productive way needs to get done, and it’s not going to happen with him in The Show. Right now, he’s trying to paint corners like he’s Picasso, but winding up looking like an obvious fake. A half-dozen starts in AAA could get his confidence back to where it should be. When a pitcher has more walks allowed than strike outs (52 BB to 48 Ks in Drabek’s case), you know he has serious issues with control right now. Get him right before he completely self-destructs and breaks his hand throwing stuff around!

4 – Bring the Other Kids Up for Good: Eric Thames and David Cooper

Please, can we stop the Juan Rivera, Edwin Encarnacion, and Corey Patterson experiment now? They’re obviously not making the Jays any better, and the kids sitting in AAA are obviously not learning much when they’re hitting the way they are. in my opnion, it’s time to go young or go home. Put Eric Thames at DH, David Cooper at 1B/DH, and see how things shake out from here on out. Get whatever you can in trade for all 3 players listed above, and call it a day.

The new possible lineup of: Escobar (ss) – Lawrie (3b) – Bautista (rf) – Lind (1B) – Arencibia/Molina (c) – Hill (2b) – Davis (cf) – Snider/Thames (lf) – Thames/Cooper (dh) is a whole lot more interesting to me that what the Jays are fielding right now. Surely, the Jays are not planning on keeping any of the 3 players listed above long term, so this is an inevitable change. If the Jays gain trade value by doing this in either David Cooper or Eric Thames, then it opens up a whole lot of options. The bench in this case would become one of Cooper, Snider, or Thames, one of Molina or Arencibia, Jayson Nix, and Mike McCoy until John McDonald returns to take that last spot.

Summary

The changes I list above are not only manageable, but they represent changes that will be made in the near future anyhow. By keeping these prospects locked up in AAA, the Jays are keeping players on their roster that really don’t represent the future of the franchise. Sure, each one has provided the Jays with a few highlights here and there, or stretches that need to be remembered for their positives (such as Patterson’s nice run of hits and HRs), but this isn’t what the Jays are building for. They need changes to be made, an infusion of youthful energy, and to regain what should look like a promising team with a spark that runs throughout the lineup. As it is, the Jays seem to be falling asleep at the wheel, simply going through the motions of remaining a .500 team.

Promoting these players will let them gain the experience they all need, will provide them with a true test, and will let the Jays know where they stand before 2012 comes around. With 2012 promotions likely to come in the form of Travis d’Arnaud, Anthony Gose, and Adeiny Hechavarria, do the Jays really want to have 5 players with very limited MLB time on their 2012 club, or do they want to give 2 or 3 of them a decent amount of seasoning before that season comes around?

It doesn’t sound like a whole lot of time, but promoting these players for the July-August-September time period would definitely go a long ways to making them more comfortable in their roles for the 2012 season. I think it’s safe to aay that no Jays fans would be in absolute uproar about such significant changes, and the way I see it, the Jays have plenty of backup after these players anyhow.

Adam Loewen is hitting .313/.373/.576 with 11 HRs and a whopping 35 extra base hits in 224 ABs, so the options in LF are plentiful for the Jays past Snider and Thames. Meanwhile, Michael McDade has a .313/.363/.488 line in AA as a 21-year old and stands to be David Cooper’s biggest threat. If the Jays can heighten Cooper’s trade value by having him play 1B for 1-2 months, they could actually get a decent return.

With an extra infusion of energy and youth in the lineup, I really do believe the Jays could do much better than what they’ve done lately.

Of the moves I listed above, which ones are you in favor of? (you can vote for more than 1 option)

Which of these moves do you approve of?

View Results

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- MG

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  • http://www.impressivewebs.com Louis

    The funny thing is, as soon as I saw the title of this article, I immediately said to myself: “Bring Travis Snider back”, so I was glad to see that was the first thing you mentioned in your list.

    I know this is going to sound crazy, but I believe, for some strange reason, that the team plays better with him in the lineup — even when he’s not doing well. He has this ‘pure hitter’ aura about him (kind of like John Olerud did) that seems to inspire the team.

    I would like to know what the Jays’ record is with Snider in the starting lineup. I will venture to guess it’s over .500. Maybe I’m wrong. If I have an hour to kill, I might check on that.

    But I do *strongly* disagree with your lumping Patterson in with E5 and Rivera. Patterson has been one of the most consistent hitters on the team and he’s sparked the offense a number of times. Remember that offensive slide they were in before he hit the 3-run homer in Texas?

    Trading or (worse) waiving Patterson is just stupid. If anything, they should try to trade him for a quality closer. But they’d probably have to give up more.

    Other than that, I agree with your list. I think the lineup they put out there (especially Nix and McCoy) is seriously lacking. I think they’ve been waiting for Nix to heat up so they can make him trade bait, but he’s just awful at the plate, and they need to get rid of him.

  • http://jaysjournal monkeyman

    great post and i completely agree. i also believe these moves
    will happen, its just a matter of time. i dont care if vegas is a hitters’ park, Cooper is hitting .400 for god’s sake! i would also bring cecil up and move villanueva back to the pen, where he was so valuable. the pen has gone from a major strength to a weakness in the past week or so.

  • Tom Stewart

    Changes need to be made and I agree with most of them. I think bring up Cecil too. Drabek to AAA..

    GO JAYS GO

    • http://www.impressivewebs.com Louis

      Cecil’s ERA in AAA is 6.04. The only reason his record is 7-2 down there is because the team scores tons of runs.

      http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=446399

      I honestly can’t see Cecil coming back to the Jays until 2012, if ever.

      • munrowski

        Brett Cecil has actually been pretty solid if you take out the two starts where he got absolutely shelled. He took the loss in both those starts. The other starts hes pitched to about a 4.00 ERA which in Las Vegas isnt terrible. The biggest question with Cecil is his velocity. I’ve heard its been better but I dont know if he’s quite there. Either way, I’m not ready to give up on him yet. I do agree Mr. Drabek has some growing to do and he may as well do it in Las Vegas where his tantrums dont effect the big league club.

        • munrowski

          And oh by the way, Cecil just through a 4 hit, complete game shutout.

  • Steve

    What transpired this weekend was about as ugly as it gets. I am relunctant to say, “it can’t get any worse” because that’s what I said after their trip to Boston earlier this year and they one-upped it. In their 6 losses to Boston this year, the jays have been outscored 56 to 9!!! If you’re looking for a positive, I guess it would be that they’ve actually been able to win 3 times against Boston when they’ve looked so completely outclassed in the losses. As for you’re article, I’m mostly in agreement. I’m in complete agreement with #1, 2 and 3. The Jays will get the same thing for Rivera today as they will in 1 month or in 2 months – nothing. So just cut him loose and put Snider back in there. I am looking forward to seeing what Lawrie can do and I’m sure that when his hand heals, they’ll probably give him a few rehab games and bring him up ASAP. As for Drabek, I don’t think he’s been all that bad. Certainly Halladay wasn’t a lot better when he first came up, but he’s not ready. When a young pithcer is ready for the show, they won’t be performing at their peak level yet but their performances should at least resemble what you can expect from them in the future. Drabek does not resemble the pitcher the Jays hope for him to become. Send him down and let him finish developing in AAA, which is where pitchers finish developing. I disagree with your #4 argument. Patterson has been one of the Jays better hitters so far and he is the Jays best option for a #4 outfielder once Snider returns. Once Lawrie enters the picture Encarnacion should stay as the DH, for no other reason that he is a better hitter than all of the other players you mentioned. Then the Jays round out the bench with Molina and three out of Thames, McDonald, Nix and Cooper. You’re projected bench is too heavy on infielders and rookies and light-hitters and has no viable backup option in CF.

  • Neil

    As much as it’s excusable that the Jays got swept by the best team in the AL East, just as the Sox did to the far superior Yankees before coming to Toronto, it’s not excusable that they got slaughtered the way they did. So, clearly, changes need to be made now, if only to keep the fans’ confidence.

    Obviously, pitching needs the most immediate attention. Many people are saying that sending Drabek to AAA for a while wouldn’t help his development, but they did the same thing with Doc after he got lit up in the majors early in his career, and look at him now. One thing is clear – having him go out there and get shelled constantly isn’t doing anything to help. The problem is that the starting staff in Las Vegas is just about as ugly so far this year as Toronto’s. Mills looks like the only other option, so why not have Drabek and Mills swap places for a while? I’d also consider giving Zep a few starts to see what happens.

    As for the other moves – Snider’s hitting .312 in AAA. Big deal. He’s still struck out a ton and only has 2 HRs, which isn’t good from a power guy. EE has to go, and he will once Lawrie is healed up. As for getting rid of Patterson – he may strike out too often for a non-power hitter, but if the Jays are considering giving up on a guy hitting .281, who can steal bases, and whose 65 hits includes 21 for extra bases – well, they may as well just give up now and get a head start on their golf games.

  • Theo_Adorno

    Travis Snider’s low strike out totals should not be celebrated. They indicate that he is not taking agressive swings. He is a low strike out – singles’ slasher instead of a moderate strikeout – slugger. His average looks good over the past ten but his slugging does not.

  • Jays2011

    I’m actually a fan of bring Lawrie up with Snider, trade Rivera, waive EE, send down McCoy or put him in the bullpen, call up Cooper, and have Davis split time with Patterson, and swap Drabek and Mills as you suggested.

    Escobar/ss Lawrie/3b Bautista/rf Lind/Cooper/1b Snider/lf
    Arencibia/Molina/C Patterson/Davis/cf Hill/2b Cooper/
    someone else/DH.

  • flipper

    Wow, I tried to make the exact arguement yesturday on the sportsnet web site but it was blocked by medorator. I guess they just want nice flowery stuff about the Jays. Bring up those guys and I will be first in line for a ticket. I will not pay good money to watch patterson, reveria and EE. Great article

  • Duncan

    One thing that you guys are overlooking is AA’s desire to get more early draft choices. To do that, he is signing or trading for players that can be Type A or B free agents. For that reason, I just cannot see Rivera or EE being let go. McCoy, McDonald, etc. yes, they can and should go.

    As for Drabek, I hope he goes down and finds his mojo. He looks like a shell of his former self.

    The one player I see you didn’t note was Adam Loewen. Given how hot his bat has been of late, I would see him coming up first.

    • Steve

      Rivera is not going to get the Jays anything – not in a trade, not a compnesatory draft pick, nothing. The only reason the Jays have Rivera is they had to take on his contract to make the Wells trade possible. I was in favour of giving him some playing time and seeing how it all plays out. We’ve seen how its playing out and it’s time to move on. As of right now, Rivera would not qualify as a type B free agent, meaning no draft pick. He has virtually no trade value. Let him go. EE also wouldn’t net a draft pick. People might be right when they say let him go, but I’m inclined to say stick with him a little while longer (strictly as a DH) because of the offensive potential. I know there are some guys tearing it up in AAA, but its not the same thing. You’ve got to go slow with rookies. Loading up all of a sudden on rookies could lead to some pretty hasrsh unintended results.

  • Bryan

    I believe they should bring the kids back up but I know full well AA will not do that. He talked about creating a brand and honoring his word to the players that they will get playing time. Unless they are traded I don’t see the kids getting any playing time because of AA probably wanting to get compensation picks.

  • David Robson

    I’m sick of hearing about the Jays being better in the future and then playing guys like EE and Rivaria, and they took there time bringing up Lawrie I mean when you trade your ace from last year you want to see something in return. I mean it’s not like he can do any worse offensively at 3rd base a power position. If the Jays are going young then go yougn now and let players that might actually be on the time in the next few years get some playing time….

  • blueboo

    What this weekend has cemented in is that the blue jays future will be played out after this year. I don’t want to hear that they are still in race because they got 95 games left on the first of July and haven’t been eliminated yet. They should be trading away anything, that is not part of future, that they can get better value for than what they may receive in compensation for losing players to free agency. I would add Hill, Molina and Davis as possibilities along with your list.You also have some candidates that are pitching

    • Mat Germain

      Exactly what I think as well. The Braves and Tigers are 2 great examples of teams that go on talent, not experience. If the talent is there, it’s the coaching staff’s job to get it out of them and to get them settled in at the majors level. As far as I know, the majors staff gets paid more for a reason, they’re the best at what they do.

      I’d also add that Zach Stewart and Henderson Alvarez may become viable options later on in the season.

  • James

    Snider, Lawrie and Cooper/Thames I cannot agree more.
    Trade/Waive E5, Patterson, Rivera should open up the spots for some of the teams best young hitter.

    This is a rebuilding year, you have to play your young players and let them learn at the MLB level without fearing a ddemotion after a 0-20 stretch. AA always say he wants to make free agent “comfortable” in TO, why not apply the same approach to its young players? If Snider is not in the plan, then trade him in the off season. If you dont play them in the major, you can never find out more about these young players

  • Keith

    Mat,

    I agree with bring Snider back. But I doubt you will see that until after the all star break. They will want to see the mechanical changes being executed for a longer period of time before they bring him back. Also they will likely want him to go through more adversity to see if he lapses back into his previous ways. Plus Patterson has value for a contender: speed, some pop and an o.k bat off the bench. Not saying you will get an “A” prospect for him, but you may be able to get a “b” level prospect. I would have no issues with a B level prospect selected by this scouting staff. Lawrie needs to be here. Please let him heal quickly.

    Where I disagree with you is on Drabek. If it was a mechanical issue, I would say let him go down where winning doesn’t matter and he can work out the kinks. His issues are all psychological. The only place for him to learn to overcome his demons is in the big leagues. It’s not about confidence. Going down to AAA, the batters are going to chase his cutter or curve off the plate. So he won’t learn anything. He has to learn against the best in the world. For all the fans going crazy. Look up Clay Bucholtz 1st year stats. Coincidentally he was 23 (the same age as Drabek). They are not pretty. Actually they are even worse than Drabek’s so far this year.
    Remember this was never a year about winning. This is a year about developing. We know what we have at 1B,SS and in RF. We also have a decent bat at C that will eventually move to DH. That’s all we can count on in talent on the field right now.
    Contrary to what we have seen so far this year, we have the makings of a decent starting 5 (although outside of Romero, they have all regressed this year). THAT’S IT PEOPLE!
    What I saw in Cooper and Thames were young hitters who definitely needed more seasoning in the minors. Especially around pitch recognition and making mechanical adjustments in game. They will get this best in the minors where it’s more about having good at bats than results. Both Cooper and Thames don’t have a ton of minor league at bats so let them get some more.
    Mills should get another shot if only to give him some trade value plus he has pitched well. Cecil needs to string together 3 or 4 quality starts before he gets the call. I also don’t think that Stewart is that far away either from the interviews with Sal Fasano. You also have the dark horse in McGowan. What keeps me going through an abysmal weekend series was thinking what the starting 5 could look like by September:
    Romero, Morrow, Cecil/ Stewart, McGowan, Drabek.

  • Steve02

    I was disappointed this weekend too but I don’t think one weekend needs to dictate changes. If you argue that Snider, Thames, and Cooper need to learn in the majors, then why not Drabek?

    I think AA is waiting for Snider to reach some level of consistency before recalling. Lawrie will be up after getting some games in.

    The real trouble with Thames and Cooper is that we don’t have a place in the line-up for them. DH? Uhm, sure, but how many times have we heard the argument that you don’t want a young player tied to the DH role? Patterson is going to have to find some sort of extended slump before we give up trying to make him a type B or get some trade value (teams won’t be wanting to make a trade yet anyway – it’s still too early). Encarnacion is still just 28 and keeps teasing us with long doubles.

    All this to say, I don’t disagree with your moves, but I don’t see much happening for another month.

  • David Robson

    Keith if you say Drabek needs to learn in the majors your wrong, because every time he pitches he gives up runs early and often and this isn’t what fans want to watch and it’s an entertainment business. I think he does need to go to the minors and better his control and build some confidence two things I don’t see him doing in Toronto. He’s trying to be to fine and it’s ended up with a ton of walks. As for Cooper and Thames they will learn better in the big leagues they can hit in the minors were the pitching isn’t at the level of the majors were the pitchers and throw qulity off speed pitches to go with there fast balls. I still like Patterson but Nix doesn’t need to be on this team. As for Snider he can come back when he starts hitting some HR and not before.

  • Mylegacy

    Mat, good thread and great comments!

    Looks to me like Snider and or Thames, Lawrie and possibly Cooper are a part of the future. I’ve no problem bringing them up anytime now. Rivera and EE can go down for sure McCoy as well and Patterson.

    A word about Patterson. By Patterson’s standards 2011 is looking like a great year – which is true – however – don’t be deceived. Patterson is a left handed dead red – pull – guy. With a high OBP guy like Escobar ahead of him and Bautista (he who must be feared) behind him (not to mention Lind behind Bautista) Patterson is getting way more fastballs than he would in any other spot in our batting order (or most any other batting order as well). For this reason I’d try and trade Patterson – NOW. While he has as much value as he’s ever had in his career. Going forward I’d be happy with Thames or Snider in his batting spot.

    Young pitchers will break your heart. AND – that’s what they’re doing now. Drabek and Morrow will rebound as they develop. Mills is NOT an answer. The only ACE potential guy – anywhere near – is Henderson ALverez and he’s still a year or so away.

    I wouldn’t bring up the “kids” until the season is DEFINITELY over – that will be the case by the All Star break by which time Cin, Atl, Stl, Pit and Phi will have sissy slapped us into last piece in the AL East. After that – when the pressure (such as it was) is off – then bring up the Kids.

    • Jays2011

      Mylegacy: I, for the most part, agree with you. A couple
      of things, though:

      Keep Patterson for a good bench player.

      Morrow could be an ace, Drabek WILL be an ace, Romero will
      definately be a great number 2 guy.

      YOU THINK PITTSBURGH WILL BEAT US?!?!?! HOW DARE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Steve

    I should have mentioned earlier Matt – good article. Also this is a great site. It has now become my favourite Blue Jays blog. And to everyone who replied to this thread, this is exactly what we need. I was just looking back through it and there are some good comments and great arguements on different perspectives. What is best is that I see a lot of agreement and a lot of disagreement but absolutely no disrespect. I’ll come back every time for threads like this. Hope to see you all around here for more discussions. Thanks again matt.

  • David Robson

    Ok every team has one guy that is the Ace Philly has a lot of great pitchers and two or three can be Ace pitchers, but your best will be the Ace Roy. For the Blue Jays I know Ricky will be the Ace for the long term. He’s got good stuff and knows how to pitch, Morrow and Drabek may have the stuff to be Ace type pitchers, and I hope they get to that level sooner then later, but if Ricky is on the team he’s the Ace!