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?

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- MG

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