Can you really go home again?
Forget LeBron for a second.
Alex Rios of the Texas Rangers has been getting attention during the first half of the season. The vultures have been circling Arlington, ready to pick the roster’s bones, and it’s not even August yet. Multiple teams, including the Seattle Mariners, the Kansas City Royals, the San Francisco Giants, and Rios’ former team in the Great White North are expressing interest in his services. The question is whether the Toronto Blue Jays should take another chance on him.
Rios’ first stint with the Jays did not end gloriously. Between fan encounters that ended badly and the belief that he had a lackadaisical work ethic on the field, Toronto felt that it had seen enough of him. After overstaying his welcome in 2009, the Chicago White Sox claimed Rios off waivers, even with a huge contract in effect. Fast-forward to 2014 in Texas and he is batting .302 with 42 RBIs in 96 games. These are the types of numbers that the Jays faithful would love to have on their current roster.
Even with injuries to some key starters, including Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie, the Blue Jays find themselves within four games of the American League East lead. The Jays should be buyers in this pennant race, as the inconsistency in pitching and run support has not buried them yet.
Besides, with Chase Headley taking his talents to the Bronx, it will only be a matter of time until other teams stockpile bats and arms, loading up for a playoff war. The smart decision would be for the Blue Jays to strengthen their team, even if only to keep a weapon away from their competition.
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Try telling that to many Jays fans with good memories. This is the same town that boos Vince Carter, arguably the best basketball player the city ever had play for them, with such venom and rage that rivals Cleveland’s displeasure with King James going to the Miami Heat four years ago. Many fans north of the border would tell you that they want a new, big bat for the Jays as long as it is not Rios. People in Toronto want their players to win and do it with a working-man’s mentality: work hard with no complaints or excuses. You must bleed like them if you wish them to cheer for you.
Well, LeBron went back to the Cavaliers and has been forgiven by many fans. Maybe Alex has changed too. Maybe Blue Jays fans can do the same for him. And maybe pigs can fly. Miracles can happen.
We are not in Alex Rios’ head. We can never really know what makes him do what he does on the field. All that we can tell is that he does something none of the Blue Jays seem to be able to do this season: hit lefties.
Rios’ batting average is .373 when he faces left-handed pitchers. The Jays are lucky they foul balls off of the same pitchers. With that kind of production and the injured Jays coming back to the lineup, Toronto would help themselves immensely for a playoff push. There is just no guarantee that Rios would want to produce for the Jays.
If the trade happens, Alex Rios could be the factor that helps the Blue Jays win a very tight division. This isn’t the lottery, though. The Jays didn’t strike it rich. Texas would want something substantial in return for an asset of this caliber. How desperate are the Jays to get their 33-year-old prodigal son to come back? How much does the Rangers want to keep them from being called the worst team in baseball at the end of this season? How bad does Rios want a second chance to be the hero many Jays fans feel that he felt short of being last time?
Statistics for Alex Rios were taken from MLB.com