The Bisons are here when is Star Wars night??

Jul 31, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Maicer Izturis (3) hits a sacrifice bunt against the Oakland Athletics during the third inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Today Maicer Izturis became the latest Blue Jay to hit the disabled list with a sprained left ankle. To replace him the Jay’s called up Ryan Goins from Buffalo. Goings is hitting .257 with 22 doubles and 6 home runs for Buffalo this season. Although the 25 year old who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 draft hits from the left side of the dish, don’t expect him to be the left handed bat the Jay’s need to take advantage of that short porch at Yankee Stadium today.

With the current roster featuring, Anthony Gose, Kevin Pillar, Munenori Kawasaki, Moises Sierra and now Goings, all of whom were in Triple A just last week it has prompted many to calling the team the Toronto Bisons. Now is the roster composed of fill ins attempts to avoid a four game sweep at the hands of the Yankees I think it’s safe to say the team is essentially at rock bottom. One can only hope that as this turns into a Triple A team that maybe we can get a Star Wars night out of this mess.

John Gibbons is taking lots of heat for an injury riddled campaignCredit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A population of Blue Jays fans feel that this hyped up year of disaster is something that should be laid at the feet of skipper John Gibbons. Be it his Boomhaueresque drawl or just the general aura of aloofness but the Jays manager has more than his fair share of detractors.

Overall Gibbons is a tactically sound manager that is rather forward thinking, (see hitting Jose Bautista second, pre-hissy fit) makes good use of his bullpen, pays attention to splits and doesn’t give away outs neeedlessly.

Now unless he secretly tells his starters before each game that they should try and give up 5 runs or see how fast they can get yanked from the ball game, the issue does not lie with him. There are two main reasons why the Jays are failing, the most significant factor was daftly pointed out by DJF‘s Andrew Stoeten:

Morrow, Johnson, Dickey, Reyes, Lawrie, Cabrera and Izturis combined to produce 21.0 rWAR in 2012. In 2013 so far? -1.6. Wow.

And the second has been the aforementioned injuries. With Bautista and Izturis hitting the DL this week  most of the teams core players have seen time away from the diamond. Look at the projected top pitchers Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson. Morrow was limited to 10 starts this season barring a surprise come back. And Johnson has battled injuries all season long and currently finds himself on the DL for the second time this season.

Josh Johnson has struggled to find his once dominant self while battling injuries this seasonCredit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Compare that to another pair of starting pitchers in the American League, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, not only have these two dominated this year and been healthy. Both of them have never been on the disabled list, in their entire career’s. Compare that to Johnson’s checkered past with injuries and Morrow missing time each of the last three seasons and you can see where the difference in wins start coming from between a contender and an also ran.

Stepping off the mound to third base. There are plenty of jokes to go around about the lack of range and general defensive skill that Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera brings to the table. When you compare him defensively to Toronto’s Brett Lawrie… it makes for an ugly juxtaposition. But here’s a question for you all, disregarding their offensive contributions would you rather have 196 games of highlight reel glove wizardry, or 278 games of slightly below average fielding?? Because over the last two seasons those are the total number of games played by Lawrie and Cabrera respectively. While Cabrera’s triple crown victory and other offensive accolades are indeed impressive, perhaps the fact that he has never seen the DL is something else equally impressive about the Tigers slugger.

While health is key to any team’s success it is sometimes worth it to have a player who will miss some time with injury but whose performance while healthy will compensate for the down time.

Prince Fielder brings the size and reliability of your old truck to the diamond. Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

Take for example Jose Bautista and Prince Fielder. Bautista has battled wrist, neck and hip injuries the last three seasons. Prince Fielder has barely missed a game and has also been able to avoid the DL for his entire career.

Since 2011 Fielder has played 610 games compared to Bautista’s 520 however despite a difference of 90 games played Bautista has hit 152 home runs and Fielder “only” 120. In fact Jose put up a 157 wRC+ compared to Fielder’s 143. So technically even with injuries an outstanding player can still deliver value to the team when injured.  But with the level of injuries the Jay’s have sustained, contending still becomes extremely unrealistic.

Hopefully reading this little mish mash of semi organized thoughts has persuaded any of the fire Gibbons people to simmer down, and also made you realize how ridiculously talented and lucky the Tigers are.

Topics: Anthony Gose, Brandon Morrow, Brett Lawrie, Jose Bautista, Josh Johnson, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Ryan Goins, Toronto Blue Jays

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  • Justin Jay

    Tough to jump on Lawrie right now. He’s been a significantly different hitter since his return from the DL back in July. .320 BA, 4 HRs, 17 RBIs, .371 OBP, .492 SLG, .864 OBP. Since the beginning of the month, his BA has jumped up nearly 50 pts and he’s only been hitless in 2 games and only has 1 game where he hasn’t been on base. His D has been stellar since moving back to 3B with a .975 FLD% converting 77 of 79 chances to make an out.

    Stoeten’s point while including Melky is useless, he was on PEDs. Why the Jays ever considered relying on Izturis as an everyday player is beyond me. He’s a utility guy at best. Always has been. So another moot point by Stoeten. When Reyes is playing, he’s been good. The biggest disappointments are Johnson and Morrow. Dickey at least is throwing and for anybody not to expect AL growing pains would be crazy. Johnson has been nothing like his mid-20s self and has flat out bombed. I think Jack Morris made a great point about Morrow coming into the season… anybody who has to work their way up to their velocity, isn’t in form when the season starts… Verlander included. The injuries and lack of velocity early I think attributes to possible poor offseason conditioning… or worse ::enter elephant in the room::, the possibility that MAYBE his diabetes is really effecting him now.

    As far as Gibbons goes, it’s tough to say that this is his fault. The poor execution in the field due to fundamentals, I believe is on him. I feel, however, he’s handled the pitching well for the most part (except for maybe leaving Dickey in too long at times) and the creativity in the line-up has been exactly what the fan base had been screaming for… though today’s line-up may leave people screaming… but that’s the hand he’s dealt.

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