Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Finding Answers From Within For the Blue Jays

Since the Blue Jays expended a big ole load of prospect capital to swing last off seasons big trades it leaves the team with much less flexibility both in terms of prospects, and available money to fix the myriad of issues that the club has to deal with. However like Jedi powers and Dorothy’s ability to go home, sometimes what you need is inside you all along!

And that is where my radical positional adjustment plan comes into play. I examined the parts that the Blue Jays currently have available to them and looked at a way to fill the most holes with those parts. I’ll break down each move individually so if something seems to not make any sense just wait till you’ve read all the suggestions because there will likely be another move that makes it acceptable.

1. Lawrie to the Keystone.

Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

My first and likely most controversial decision is to move Brett Lawrie to second base. Offensively if Lawrie continues performing as he has since returning from the disabled list he would be the best upgrade the Jays could get at second unless Robinson Cano gets persuaded to accept several trucks full of Rogers’ money, which likely isn’t even available to be given to him. If you’re one of the people that just picked up your Ryan Goins jersey I’m sure you feel that the Jays don’t need to fill a hole at second base, however this is incorrect. The Blue Jay’s fan base propensity to pitch a tent over defensive wizard types who can’t hit but try hard needs to end and we shouldn’t be so willing to accept the status quo at any position.

Defensively the way Lawrie plays at third he would clearly have the athleticism to be a plus defender at second base as well, and while there would be somewhat of a drop off at third base defensively I think when all the dust has settled it would work out that any defense lost at third would even out in better offense around the diamond and great defense at second.

2. The Return of E5

While there are still many cringe worthy memories of Edwin Encarnacion‘s defense at third base in all of our minds, Encarnacion is not the same player he was in those days. With his spot in the lineup secure Encarnacion is mentally able to take on third base at this point in his career. He acquitted himself quite well at the position in brief appearances this season and has a bat that would definitely play at the position. While clearly he wouldn’t provide the elite defense that we’ve become accustomed to from Lawrie, Encarnacion would be more than adequate to fill the position.

3. Bautista to Corner Infield/DH Rotation

Jose Bautista‘s time in the Blue Jays outfield should come to an end in my opinion. Nothing against his performance in the field I just feel that with the players the Jays have in the organization and the way Bautista’s last few seasons have gone the team might be able to get more out of him in a different position.I think first base and or designated hitter would be the best place to park Bautista. Over the last three years Bautista has often been sidelined by neck, wrist, and ankle injuries, and then of course the hip injury that brought his 2013 season to a premature end. If it’s possible to put Bautista in a position that is less physically demanding it may help the Jays keep his bat in the lineup more.  Although he has the plus throwing arm the Jays tools happy front office has provided the system with lots of strong armed youngsters available to man right field, and anything that will keep Bautista from having to make plays like this one should be looked into. If Encarnacion couldn’t cut it at third base we also know Bautista could play there but that would mostly negate moving him to avoid wear and tear. With Adam Lind, EE and Bautista in a rotation between DH and the corner infield spots the Jays would be able to keep all three fresh.

4. Keeping Adam Lind as DH/1B

Adam Lind not only deserves to stick around but is a very good option for the Jays. A little while back Drew Fairservice at Getting Blanked  did an excellent job pointing out  the merits of Adam Lind. Truth is Lind is one of the best choices available at DH. Currently in Fangraph’s DH leaderboards Lind sits fifth, ahead of him, is fellow Blue Jay Edwin Encarnacion, Red Sox Slugger David Ortiz, and then two players who really shouldn’t be counted as DHs the Indians’ Carlos Santana and the Twins’ Joe Mauer. So for the Jays to find any sort of upgrade at DH would seem highly unlikely especially when you consider the buyout money the team would need to pay to Lind. And although Lind’s new beard isn’t exactly in Mike Napoli or Jayson Werth territory yet it definitely should be a factor in assessing where Lind can fit on a club that is sorely lacking in beard power.

5. Melky Returns to the Outfield

Unfortunately for all you Melky Cabrera haters out there I am proposing he returns to the Jay’s outfield  not to be confused with the musical geniuses of the same name. With Cabrera having the tumor removed from his back he should be expected to have somewhat of a bounce back 2014. While he likely wont reach the heights of his PED fueled 2012 he should be at least a viable option for the team. The tumor Cabrera suffered from had a direct impact on not only his mobility but as well sapped power from his legs. Now that we know Melky’s steep decline this season wasn’t due to being on turf I think we can expect a solid season out of Cabrera. In the beginning of the season he was one the teams few consistent contributors at the plate, and defensively this is a player who is only two seasons removed from patrolling center field at the spacious Kauffman Stadium, so he should do just fine in a corner spot for Toronto.

6. Sierra and Gose Platoon

On their current development path Moises Sierra and Anthony Gose are both flawed players. However they both have their own upside. In a perfect world the team could put Gose in the outfield have Sierra take the at bats and then Gose replace him on the base paths, but obviously that is not possible, however the two of them splitting time in right field would be an adequate solution for now. Both have strong throwing arms which will play well in the position, and their left right splits would play well for a platoon situation. Sierra has an 1.146 OPS against lefties this year, and although that number reeks of small sample size last season he put up a respectable .815 so he can still get the job done. Having Sierra to start against tough lefties would help Anthony Gose‘s offensive deficiencies not be exposed quite so much. They also are the perfect compliments for each other in late game situations. If Gose is in the game and the opponents bring in a lefty specialist Sierra can come in to pinch hit. And on the flip side, Gose would be an excellent pinch runner and or defensive replacement for Sierra in a late game situation in a close game.

So that concludes my six steps the Jays should take to adjust their roster.  With this shuffling of the roster the Jays would have an infield of Bautista, Lawrie, Jose Reyes and Encarnacion ,and an outfield of Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, and Sierra/Davis with Lind at DH leaving only the suck hole of production that J.P. Arencibia provides behind the plate to be dealt with…. oh yeah and the pitching.

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Tags: Adam Lind Anthony Gose Brett Lawrie Edwin Encarnacion Jose Bautista JP Arencibia Melky Cabrera Moises Sierra Toronto Blue Jays

  • Andrew van Laar

    I have a couple comments on certain points.

    1. Lawrie to 2B and EE to 3B

    While I think the switch of Lawrie to 2B would not be horrible, and would certantily provide more offense from that position, I think the defence of EE at 3B would offset quite a bit of the offensive Lawrite would bring to 2B. EE ,in my mind, can do an average job at 3B and make the routine plays with decent efficiency but his lack of range and athleticsm will not allow him to rob hitters of the hits that Lawrie does.

    Also, when has EE become an elite hitter? Since he doesn’t have to worry about fielding anymore. Do you really want to risk messing up your most consistant and dangerous offensive player? Playing 3B almost everyday also increases the risk of injury to EE. I think there are too many cons compared to pros of this position change.

    2. Sierra and Gose platoon

    This should not happen. A star prospect like Gose should NEVER platoon at the major leauge level. You said he has defieciencies that Sierra can offset. True. But do you want a guy like Goes to develope thinking these definciencies are OK and he doesn’t have to work on them? No. He should spend time in AAA and work them out. I don’t mind Sierra in platoon with another player because I don’t see the upside in him that I do with Gose but even him… he needs to work on his defense and mental toughness.

    3. For Bautista, I wouldn’t mind trading him. I am not Bautista hater don’t get me wrong. I love the guy (minus his ump chirping) but he is a tradeable chip that the Jays can use to free up cash and get useful pieces back. The RF position is one of the few that we can refill from the minors with either Seirra or Gose filling his spot. Now in my second point I said Sierra and Gose shouldn’t platoon. If they were given fulltime jobs, I would put one of them in place of Bautista (Sierra over Gose). Platooning takes away playing time.

    4. Agree 100% with your point on Lind and also on Melky. I really think that Goins’ defense at 2B offsets his offensive deficiencies and to be honest, we have more than enough offensive power to make up for a weak #9 hitter who is a wizard at 2B.

    5. Sigh… is it bad to say I really want Jimenez to replace JP? I honestly think that the Jays could not go wrong with giving Jimenez every opportunity next year to take the job from JP. If he can hit .240 with OBP of .300 I am more than ready to take him over JP. The guy is a strong defender and has a cannon of an arm.

    6. Am I the only one scared of extending Colby? I really do not think he is going to repeat this year next year. To be fair I have been on the anti-Colby bandwagon since we got him but he hasn’t done anything other than this year to say I should switch my position.

    • Alex Dineley

      Yeah obviously most of the moves could be debated either way, with EE I think that having job security and knowing his role offensively might translate into better defense, as he was passable there this season when pressed into duty.

      With Gose I agree that if he’s a star prospect you don’t want to platoon him you want to get all the at bats possible and get him right… but at the same time if a player is going into a third year at AAA in an organization where he is by no means “blocked” that “star prospect” moniker begins to fade in a hurry and he may end up being just a guy.

      And yeah Colby is a bit of an enigma but he is putting up solid numbers at a premium position, having Vernon Wells for all those years spoiled us into expecting more from our center fielders and those months between Vernon and Colby showed just how much of a drop off there is between a legit center fielder and the rest of the league, and until Gose shows more I’d hitch my wagon to Colby any day.

      • Justin Jay

        I don’t think Gose is a star. I think he’s overrated

        • Alex Dineley


        • Andrew van Laar

          Ya I am starting to think he is overrated too but I would like to give him one more shot in AAA to prove that he can be that lead off hitter of the future for the Jays. Fingers crossed because the cupboards are pretty bare save for the low minors…

  • Justin Jay

    I love this article. I don’t agree with all of it, but you sold me on several things. Lawrie to 2nd base is interesting, but i’m not sure how it will pan out. He absolutely does have the range for a 2B, but he’s got such a great throwing arm, moving him there wastes it and makes the team susceptible to bunts. But seeing how bad our 2B tandem was this season, it’s not a bad idea.

    EE to DH. He’s done it before. You could swap him, Bautista, and Lind in a DH/1B/3B group, obviously, with Lind not playing 3B. But Bautista has played the position before and has the arm. His range isn’t awful for 3B but Reyes has the plus range to make up for it (assuming he stays healthy.) EE at 3B is OK, but honestly… with good prospects at 3B coming up, getting a castoff like maybe Martin Prado from AZ should be considered. So maybe something like that? The major thing though, is there NEEDS TO BE defensive improvement in the IF.

    I’m not sold on Gose. I think Sierra has the power/BA potential and this team is relying too much on Gose to be that future leadoff guy. I use to be on that train and then after watching him play, I just don’t ever see him being a .250 hitter. He doesn’t make enough contact. He’s a great fielder, great speed, but at this point, it might be worth trading him to fill a need somewhere else. While Sierra isn’t a plus OF, like you said, he’s got the arm and probably will hit .275 20-25 HR, 80-90 RBIs.

  • Mr. Roboto

    So that leaves two starters and a catcher to be got.

  • brad

    Adam Lind: Career BABIP under .300 including under .285 2010-2012. This year? About .320

    I’m not trying to be a downer or anything but to suggest he is one of the game’s best DH options seems a little bit out there to me. He is 16th on the 1b list and any of them could serve as a 1b/dh for the Jays. Without going into the 1st basemen, I’m not sure why Kendrys Morales isn’t above Lind on that list… He is better in all 3 triple crown categories with consistent production every year except when he was hurt. He is also a better first baseman, can hit against both lefties and righties and made just over 5 million this year. Speaking of beards, Napoli is only on a one year deal as well. My point is that we need to evaluate Lind against what else is out there rather than the awful seasons he’s put up the last few years. I have a bad feeling about him next year…

    I would be curious to see what Lawrie would look like at second given a full offseason(rather that just 2 AAA games) to test it out. Tough risk to take given that he is one of the 2 best defensive 3Bs in the game though. Feilding him at 3B, Goins at 2nd and Bautista in the OF is defensively stronger by a wide margin(assuming Lawrie is not a gold glove second baseman….which isn’t a stretch) while only being slightly less offensively potent. It’s an interesting idea to try and filla hole(2B) by rotating it to where you have a bit of depth(OF) but I can live with a light hitting 2B if they upgrade at a couple other places.

    If I were the Jays I would look for 4 things 1) A catcher… I love JP as a person but he’s hitting .200, 2a) a good bat at either OF or DH/1B by way of free agency resulting in Adam Lind’s option not being picked up or by a trade including Adam Lind and 1-2 bullpen arms. If you get an outfielder, DH Melky and if you get a 1B, you’ve upgraded on Lind 2b)If you cannot complete #2a, find the other half of the adam lind platoon. Sierra to LF and Melky to DH against lefties maybe?? 3) One free agent starting pitcher not named Josh Johnson 4)A team that will take on bullpen salary in a trade for a good bench player

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