Anthony Gose: Do the Blue Jays Still Have a Plan?


Following last night’s loss to the New York Yankees, Anthony Gose was again optioned to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons to create room for Colby Rasmus, who is back to full health following a rehab stint with the Bisons.

Shi Davidi broke the news on Twitter soon after the final pitch:

The move doesn’t come as a shock, but it leaves me again to wonder what the long-term plan is with Anthony Gose, who seems to be stuck on “spin-cycle” recently in the Jays organization. Following the injury to Rasmus, his hot start had many calling for 10 more years of Anthony Gose, writing Rasmus off as expendable. However, the former blue-chip prospect has come back to Earth as of late. His Defence remained strong as ever, but Gose’s bat began to create a hole near the bottom of our order.

Seeing Colby Rasmus in Centre Field anywhere past this season is no longer a certainty, as he seems poised to earn a large contract in free agency (assuming he again finishes strong).  Many, including myself, had hoped Anthony Gose would blossom further this season and make the Blue Jays decision an easy one, but up to this point, that hasn’t happened.

I’m left worrying: is Anthony Gose a “One Trick Pony”? Has his speed excited us so much over the past few seasons that we have been too optimistic regarding other areas of his game? I’m afraid the answers may be yes.

With 2,820 Minor League AB’s, over 1,000 of which came at the AAA level, I hesitate to argue that Gose needs more time in the Minors. Gose is the owner of two 70+ SB seasons, one of which came during his strongest season in 2011 in New Hampshire, where he slashed .260/.339/.374. Over the past three seasons through several stints with the big club, though, Anthony Gose has struggled with contact, plate discipline, and base running.

A stat that worries me here is Gose’s 22SB to 9CS, a ratio that drops to 7SB to 6CS since the start of 2013.  He has struggled greatly, at times, to pick up on the timing to the plate of Major League pitchers, which has gotten him into trouble with pickoffs and late jumps. The quick burst upon the pitcher’s first move, like we grew to love from Rajai Davis, simply hasn’t shown in a consistent enough manner.

The Real Question: Why is Anthony Gose struggling?

I believe Anthony Gose is having trouble maximizing his skill potential because of one harsh realization: that there is a huge difference between being a “base stealer” and a “fast player”.  Staying with the above example, Rajai Davis was more of a pure base stealer (albeit far more experienced).  In his final season with the Blue Jays last year, he notched 44SB with just 6CS.  His bat was not always strong, perhaps comparable to Gose’s, but his secondary skill set gave him great value within his role.

The problem with Gose’s speed (yes, that sounds picky), is that it needs to be enabled or activated by another skill.  Gose must first make quality contact or draw a walk before he is able to use his elite speed, and his inability to create situations in which his speed is an advantage, and use these situations successfully, has held him back.  I frequently compare Gose to a Wide Receiver in football who is faster than anyone on the field, but drops the pass when he gets open.

There is a silver lining to all of this, however, in that Gose possesses one of the few skills that cannot be taught.  He does not need to “learn how to hit” entirely, he simply needs to learn how to create more situations which enable his greatest skill.  Just like a Home Run hitter trying to create a fastball count, Anthony Gose needs to create situations that he can control and capitalize on with his feet.

He may never be a .300 hitter, but harnessing his speed could give us a very valuable 4th outfielder, frequent pinch runner, and eventual everyday player.  Right now, I’d prefer to keep him up with the Blue Jays in a similar complimentary role to Davis’ from 2013, but there still may come a time for that over the coming months.

I’m disappointed by Anthony Gose’s growth and performance this season, certainly, but don’t forget: this kid is 23-years-old.  Edwin Encarnacion was 27-years-old we placed him on waivers, the same age Jose Bautista was when we acquired him in what seemed to be a “depth move”.  There is a long way to go before we should even begin to give up on Gose.  As he stands today, though, Anthony Gose may be a “One Trick Pony” who has yet to master his trick.

What do you think?  Should he stay, or should he Gose?