Much of the Blue Jays success in 2014 will hinge on the ability of players to stay healthy, which is something that Jose Bautista has struggled to do the past couple seasons. This team possesses the potential of being top five in many offensive categories and will rely heavily on contributes of our most recognized star, Jose Bautista. When healthy, Jose Bautista is one of the most feared power hitters in the game. Unfortunately, he hasn’t finished the last two seasons healthy, finishing 2012 with a wrist injury and 2013 with a hip contusion.
At 33 year of age, Jose Bautista’s skills will eventually start to decline. I believe the first skills affected by father time are durability and speed, speed in the outfield and speed up the first base line. To protect our most prized possession, the face of our franchise, and the engine that will drive our offense, Jose Bautista should be DHing more in 2014. I am not suggesting Jose should a full-time DH in 2014, more like 1-2 games a week or every 10 days, or whenever he appears banged up or tired. Jose played 9 games at DH over the last 2 seasons with 7 occurring in 2013, and that number should increase to 20 to 30 games. Bautista doesn’t think that he has suddenly become injury prone, but the hip injury that ended Bautista’s 2013 season was a result of repetitive impact plays which is concerning.
Having Bautista DH more would allow him to stay fresher, avoid potential injuries in the outfield, and start the transition to our everyday DH. Jose is signed through 2015, with an option for 2016. He is set to earn $28 million over the next two year and would make an additional $14 million if his option is picked up. Jose Bautista will be 35 years old at the end of 2016. Sure there are guys like Ichiro Suzuki, Alfonso Soriano, and Torii Hunter that are over 35 year of age and continue to put up good numbers. I am not so sure that we should take a chance with a guy who led the major leagues in homeruns two years in a row.
There is a little wrinkle in my little suggestion….which is, what happens with Lind and Encarnacion when Jose is at DH and who fills the void in RF?
If Jose were to play 20-30 games at DH as I have suggested, than that mean Lind and EE would either have to play 1st base of have the day off. If both those guys are able to produce at 2013 level, that is not a situation I relish. On the other hand, a day off for Lind’s back and EE’s wrist is not a bad thing. As for who would play RF while Jose is enjoying a relaxing day at DH, that one has been made much easier by Melky Cabrera returning to health. A healthy Melky Cabrera opens up endless possibilities; with the simplest being a Moises Sierra playing RF or LF and having Cabrera shifting over to RF. John Gibbons even suggested that Cabrera may see time in CF this summer. EE and Lind could see some time in LF since both have played there in the past, but I am not too sure how much I would like to see this.
I know that Jose Bautista has an accurate cannon for a arm in RF, but I feel that this team would be better serviced with Bautista in LF. His best fielding attribute is his arm but he is barely average in the instincts, hands, first step, and speed attributes. These barely average attributes are the ones that will decline as Bautista continues to age, so a move out of RF or the outfield is inevitable. This will become more of an issue if Sierra’s bat continues to improve and force its way into the lineup.
What are your thoughts on getting Jose Bautista more rest through DH at bats?