Escobar’s latest ‘example’ is supposed to highlight the Blue Jays OBVIOUS need for more veteran leadership in the clubhouse. From the ‘Escobar situation’ to Zaun to Rosenthal, we hear the cries.
Yawn………….. mark me down as unconvinced. In fact, I’d be bored if I wasn’t offended by the all-encompassing use of a homophobic incident for anyone and everyone’s arguments and analysis.
At the beginning of the preseason whispers grew louder and the voices started to loudly proclaim the Jays as the young ‘it’ club. There wasn’t a concern of a lack of vets. There was the promise of a young nucleus of players with high ceilings and lots of potentials. The Jays were said to be the new ‘Rays’, another team that won “despite their serious lack of veterans”.
The Blue Jays need a lot of things (healthier players, a real first baseman…), but what they really need is the same thing that they needed last year and the year before: starting pitching, not veterans. For most of the season, our offence and our defense were not what were holding the Jays back. The offence delivered on its promise of being young with lots of upside but potential that wouldn’t necessarily be reached. Some guys have had down years (Escobar, Rasmus, Lawrie) while some guys have had pretty good years (Encarnacion) but that is the universal fluctuation of sports.
Maybe you disagree, but I think that when everyone was healthy our offense was playoff-caliber. We could use a first baseman, a catcher (sorry JPA, but I am not a believer), a left fielder, and a second baseman but what team doesn’t have holes? The rest of the offense was good enough to cover up these holes.
It is the starting pitching, and the injuries to the starting rotation that blew a hole the size of the LA Dodger’s payroll increase to the Jay’s playoffs hopes. Look at the numbers: we are 12th out of 14 teams in the AL with a 4.62 team ERA and the peripherals aren’t much better: 14th in HR with 192, 14th in walks with 549, and 11th in strikeouts with 1087. The team ERA+ is +93 and the team whip is 1.391
The plan was to rely on a rag-tag group of young pitchers who had never consistently produced 200 innings to pull it together. I am a homer and I root for Dustin McGowan but he shouldn’t be penciled in as a reliable ball-player, forget a rotation starter. Brett Cecil hadn’t shown enough to stay in the majors. Kyle Drabek never showed enough to be called up to the majors. Henderson Alvarez was rushed without learning a third pitch because we had no-one else to slot in. Drew Hutchison was brought up before he could get acclimatized to minor league double-AA ball.
And yet, the chorus calls are coming in that the Jays need veteran leadership. For argument’s sake lets look at our vets. Yes, I am selecting the worst, but Jose and Edwin are core star players which is different than what people use the term veteran to mean.
Jeff Mathis: Age 29, 69 games, 8 HR, .248 OBP, .387 Slg, .5 WAR
Omar Vizquel: Age 45, 57 games, 0 hr, .271 OBP, .288 SLG, 0.2 WAR
Rajai Davis: age 31, 135 games,7 HR, .302 OBP, .366 SLG, 0 .3 WAR
Ben Francisco: Age 30, 27 games, 0 HR, .296 OBP, .380 SLG, -.3 WAR
Kelly Johnson: Age 30, 138 games, 15 HR, .313 OBP, .360 SLG, 1.2 WAR
Total games played: 426 Total WAR: 1.9
The Jays need better ball-players. We need a real starting rotation with more than two pitchers, spare parts and rushed minor league pitchers. We need depth in case Ricky Romero decides to permanently fall of a cliff and become the new John Lackey. We don’t need more veterans to calm the clubhouse, but as shown above if we are going to have vets then we need them to be better ball-players.