Corey Patterson and 3B a Danger to Jose Bautista?


If you were wondering why everyone out there was apprehensive about the decision the Jays made to move Jose Bautista to the hot corner, and you watched last night’s game, you now know why. Miscommunication between him and Corey Patterson on a pop-up almost resulted in what could have been a horrific collision between the left-fielder and Bautista. Although some may say that it was just a one time thing, I say that I’ve see similar scenarios playing themselves out while Patterson was in CF and Bautista was in RF, leading me to wonder: is Corey Patterson a danger to Jose Bautista?

My answer: YES! And here’s why…

I don’t know if it’s because Patterson doesn’t yell loudly enough or whether Bautista doesn’t hear the tone of his voice, but there have been way too many close calls over the first half of the season for comfort. Bautista doesn’t seem to have any communication issues with Rajai Davis when they are manning RF and CF respectively, so why the issues when fielding with Patterson? I have no answer, only a commentary.

I want to add the following to the situation, if you really do want production from your 3B, go out and sign Melvin Mora to a small contract and waive Jayson Nix. Mora knows the A.L. East very well, will play sound D, and won’t risk injuring himself. He is likely to accept a bench role when Brett Lawrie is ready to come up to man 3B for good.

Instead of adding a player like Mora, the Jays have decided to move their best player to a position that he isn’t comfortable playing any more. He has said over-and-over again that he would rather play RF. That tells me that as soon as he mans 3B, his head is not in the right place. He may feel out of sorts, less comfortable, and definitely less proficient than he seemed to be in Right Field. The Jays watched him rob a HR, make nice throws with his cannon to the tune of 8 outfield assists, and play hard in RF with an above average 0.2 dWAR. Why they feel the need to move him to a new position that could risk injury is absolutely beyond my comprehension.

I watched and held my breath as Bautista and Patterson came within 1-2 steps of possibly ending Bautista’s season. I would say that Bautista should return to RF, but chances are that Patterson would follow him again by manning CF, again placing him at risk while shagging fly balls and line drives. As Bautista’s shadow, it seems, Patterson keeps coming way too close to taking Bautista out. At this point, I’m not sure which one is a greater danger to him, Patterson or 3B?

With the way Patterson has played in CF, and the way Rajai Davis has played overall (like a HiA player), you can understand why the Jays are pressing Travis Snider to play CF in their stead. Although I proposed that the Jays may be doing so to make him better trade bait, it could be Davis that is on his way out instead. He has the speed that many teams look for while making a playoff push, and could be the spark that some teams are looking for off-the-bench. I won’t come up with a drawn out list of possibilities, but if the Jays can get a decent return for Davis at this point, I don’t believe they’d blink twice before moving him. Davis has $1.25 million left on his contract for 2011, and is set to make $2.75 million in 2012 (club also holds a $3 million option for 2013 with a $0.5m buyout), so he is a very moveable piece overall.

Patterson, meanwhile, works best as a 4th outfield option or a LF, far away from Bautista who should be manning RF.

Is it really worth the risk to have Bautista play 3B? Reality check: the Jays are in 4th place in the A.L. East, are not likely to get ahead of either the Red Sox or Yankees, and will be looking to 2012 to make a run. Therefore, the safety of Bautista should be priority #1, right?

Will the Jays learn their lesson from the close call seen in last night’s game? Or, will they wait until an injury occurs and blame everything but their decision to move him to 3b? My answers would be no, no, and probably, based on what I’m reading from the team’s reaction, but I truly hope I am wrong.

Jose Bautista is your franchise player, Toronto. You don’t risk losing him just because you decided to make Jayson Nix your best option at 3B and didn’t call up Brett Lawrie when you should have. Be patient, and safe, wait for Lawrie to get healthy and move up and suck it up with the options you do have at 3B.

I’d like to make 1 final proposition for the Jays at 3B. Why not move Aaron Hill to 3B and see how he handles the hot corner? His bat has been bad at 2B anyhow, but would play up in comparison to Nix and John McDonald. If he does well, it would enhance the chances of a team taking a shot on him as a FA, even if he winds up being a Type A, and it could actually get his bat going. When Lawrie is ready to take over from him in August, he can still return to 2B. The Jays could then call up Chris Woodward, who I see as a better option in the lineup than Nix or McDonald. Woodward has 29 extra base hits in 229 ABs in AAA this year, and a nice .284/.342/.480 line to go with it. That, in my mind, makes a whole lot more sense than moving your franchise player to a position that could enhance his risk of injury.

I’m fairly certain that the middle infield will soon be made up of Adeiny Hechavarria and Yunel Escobar. If the Jays want to ensure that their franchise player is still available when that happens, they need to move him back to RF pronto.

At least, that’s my take on things at this point. Excuse me while I hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

As for the remainder of the game, I thought that Brett Cecil looked a lot more comfortable than he had all season, that his fastball looked more effective than it had at the beginning of the year, and that the Jays could have easily won this game if it wasn’t for their sloppy defensive play.

– MG

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