2013 Toronto Blue Jays Reviews: Munenori Kawasaki
Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Position: Shortstop/2nd Base
There were no expectations for Munenori Kawasaki going into the 2013 season. There was a huge gap in the minors of shortstops of any significance. Kawasaki was a late signing to give the Blue Jays some semblance of depth or at least a body with MLB experience (albeit not the greatest as his .192 BA in Seattle in 2012 could attest to). The only way Kawasaki was going to make the big league club is if something happened Reyes. With Reyes injury history I was a little surprised they didn’t think a little deeper than Maicer Izturis as the back up. So once Reyes went down with his ankle injury and Izturis was hurt and playing poorly, Kawasaki got his chance. As long as he caught the ball and got an occasional hit all would be fine…kind of like a shortstop in the 70s.
It was a whirlwind of buses and planes as Kawasaki got to know the QEW Highway pretty well:
Recalled April 13 from AAA Buffalo.
Optioned back to AAA Buffalo June 26.
Recalled June 28 from AAA Buffalo.
Optioned back to AAA Buffalo July 13.
Recalled August 14 from AAA Buffalo.
Kawasaki did what was asked of him. He provided a steady glove at shortstop and any hitting would be a bonus. He picked up a game winning hit here, game tying home run there and with a truly infectious personality he became the latest scrappy vet type that Toronto sports fans love in general.. His production is easier to clarify if you go beyond the game itself. He brought a sense of fun and humility to the locker room and it seemed to help them for a while. But for true production? He was a mediocre hitter who seemed to have a knack for working the count…something his counterparts could learn a thing or two about. Kawasaki made the most of his ability and definitely helped ease the loss of Reyes.
It would be nice to have this play out into another season on the big club for Kawasaki. Unfortunately, if Reyes does get hurt again I think Alex Anthopoulos will have a better all around player available to take over at short. Kawasaki doesn’t have the arm to be a super sub. So he is what he is. A breath of fresh air who was fun to watch. 2014 may see him get some time with the big club again but I highly doubt it. Look for the Blue Jays to keep him at AAA so they have that depth and try signing another veteran middle infielder to back Reyes. Munenori is pretty much the back ups back up. Don’t let the personality cloud judgement. Mediocre still fails to win you championships. AA is under immense pressure to win. Kawasaki is not the answer, just a stop gap measure that fans truly adore.