Bluefield Jays Head to Appy League Finals as Jays Lose to Yanks


Although the Jays have been hovering at around .500 all season long, many of its minor league affiliates have been dominant and are in the thick of the playoffs. Such is the case for the Bluefield Blue Jays, the newest addition to the Jays minors system and a level of play that did not exist for them in 2010, as they beat Elizabethton Twins for the 2nd time in 3 days, putting them head-to-head with the 2010 champion Johnson City Cardinals.

You can catch the BoxScore here, but here are a few of the highlights for the Bluefield team:

  • They pounded out 15 hits in the latest win, including 3 from each Christopher Hawkins and Kevin Pillar;
  • Three others were able to get a multiple hit game, including Canadian OF Dalton Pompey and Gustavo Pierre (remember him?);
  • The BFJ were able to win despite a not-so-great outing from Alex Meyer who allowed 6 ER in 5.1 IP;
  • They beat up on Derek Christensen, who had been 5-2 with a 2.87 ERA and .207 average against over 19 starts this season. That, in itself, is impressive;
  • Although they didn’t manage any HRs, the BFJ did knock out 6 extra base hits including 4 doubles (2 by Hawkins) and 2 triples; and
  • Christopher Hawkins finishes the series 6 for 14 (.429) with 3 doubles and 9 RBI. He is easily the BFJ MVP to this point.

The Bluefield Jays now face the Cardinals who got by the Danville Braves. Some of their better players include Kyle Hald (7-0 with a 1.84 ERA and .178 average against), Tyrell Jenkins (3.86 ERA in 11 GS), Eduardo Hiraldo (3.71 ERA in 11 GS), 3B Roberto De La Cruz (16 HRs), their 2011 2nd rd pick OF Charlie Tilson, and SS Matthew Williams (15 doubles, 6 HR, 20 SB).

Good luck to the squad as they try to make headlines by grabbing a championship the very first year they exist as a Blue Jays affiliate!

Jays Lose to Yanks

I was very impressed with how this game began for the Jays as they seemed poised and extremely patient at the plate. However, I wasn’t impressed with how they eventually lost that patience and began to get increasingly anxious at the plate after a very strong 1st inning.

Some of the positives I saw from the game were some hard hit balls that could definitely have fallen in for hits (from Lind, Encarnacion, and others), and also the continued strong play of Brett Lawrie at 3B. As usual, I was also semi-impressed with Brandon Morrow as he dominated, and didn’t dominate, all in the same game. He hasn’t been able to put it all together at all this season and is really going to test the will of Jays management. Will they want to extend him far with these flip-flop type of performances? Maybe, but he may not get as much money as Ricky Romero got unless he displays some true steadiness in his last couple of starts. Carlos Villanueva was strong through 1.1 innings, allowing 2 walks and striking out 1, so it was nice to see him back in the saddle. Joel Carreno (1 ER in 8 IP this season) continues to impress and really seems poised to grab a pen role in 2012 and perhaps build into a starting role if required, as Villanueva did part of the way through this season. He should help improve the pen performance for 2012.

Some of the negatives I saw were the continued struggles of J. P. Arencibia at the plate in terms of contact. He really needs to shorten that swing when facing 2 strikes and also needs to learn to take the ball the other way a little more. I also believe that the Jays should make a play for Brett Gardner if he ever hits free agency because he plays like a super-star every time the Jays face the Yanks! He made some great defensive grabs and was really the reason the Jays lost this game.

The Jays have been making the lineup with a R/L/R/L/R/L/R balance through the 7th spot which should be helping them, but the results have been mixed to this point. One thing it does indicate, if the Jays continue to want to go with this kind of lineup is that Brett Lawrie, a RHB, would have to unseat Yunel Escobar or Jose Bautista in order to get within the first 3 bats in the lineup. That is extremely unlikely, therefore, the only way he’ll head any higher in the lineup seems to be if he unseats Edwin Encarnacion in the 5th spot. With the way EE has hit of late, even that seems extremely unlikely. Although, in 2012…..

It’ll be interesting to see what strategy the Jays use in 2012 and whether they’d be comfortable having 3 RHBs in the top of the lineup with Escobar, Lawrie and Bautista. My inclination is that they may rather have Lawrie hit 5th spot with a LHB hitting in the 2-hole while balancing the LHB/RHB all of the way through the lineup. I’m just not sure who they’d want to put in the cleanup spot, but he would have to be a LHB and they can’t be happy with Lind’s performance so far. Luckily for the Jays, he has a VERY team friendly contract that doesn’t include a no-trade clause. By the way, Prince Fielder is a LHB…..

To take a page out of the 90s, that, my friends, is a thing that make you go hmmmmm……

Such an acquisition would balance the Jays lineup as follows:

  • Yunel Escobar – RHB
  • Eric Thames or Travis Snider – LHB
  • Jose Bautista – RHB
  • Prince Fielder – LHB
  • Brett Lawrie – RHB
  • Colby Rasmus – LHB
  • Edwin Encarnacion – RHB
  • Kelly Johnson or a FA (Aaron Hill is a RHB, as is Adeiny Hechavarria) – LHB
  • J. P. Arencibia or Travis d’Arnaud – RHB

That would be a lineup that would take the Jays to a new level. A healthy Rasmus, more consistent Encarnacion, and more experienced Thames and Snider.

With talk of the Jays doing their homework on Yu Darvish in Japan and off season free agency getting close (a short few months away), you have to begin wondering if and where the Jays will spend their money. Will they remain content with a sub-par cleanup hitter such as Adam Lind, or use him as a trade chip and grab Prince Fielder? Will they instead outbid others for the services of Darvish? Will they be happy enough with Kelly Johnson at 2B to re-sign him? Nobody knows at this point. But, what I DO know is that they are strongly dedicated to taking a LHB-RHB balanced approach to their lineup that does put Prince Fielder and Kelly Johnson at the forefront of the “qualified” list of free agents as highly ranked LHB. If the Jays could have hitters in the 8th and 9th spots playing 2B and C respectively who can knock out 40 HRs between the two of them, AND add a MVP caliber cleanup hitter this off season, they’d be well on their way to challenging the Red Sox and Yankees for playoff spots in 2012.

You have to like the options the Jays have at this point. If their 1st round pick becomes protected due to final standings, I do expect they’ll make at least 1 big splash while grabbing 1 Type A FA at a minimum. And I truly hope that Type A is the Prince.

– MG

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