This week s installment of Blue Swagger involves where the Toronto Blue Jays are headed. Forget the 2014 season for a moment. Where do we see the Blue Jays in the future? What do they need to get them there? Who could help in that cause?
In the last seven days, a few Blue Jays have been on fire for hits and RBIs. A couple pitchers have had very good outings, including a few starters who reached farther in a game without falling to pieces. Consistency is the key. It s great to go on a hot streak, as long as that hot streak lasts a season. Otherwise, you need people to carry the burden your hot player leaves when he goes cold.
Jose Bautista, Dioner Navarro, Edwin Encarnacion, and Colby Rasmus all hit two home runs for the Jays this past week. Yet, they also left two wins they needed to take in Fenway to the Boston Red Sox. Home runs are very powerful, make a lot of noise, and help pad RBI statistics. You could argue that nothing was more important than Rasmus pinch hit homer to win the game for the Jays, recently. Although, being put on the shelf for previous bad appearances at the plate keep him from the title this week. Bautista had the most hits this week (10), but he also had 27 at-bats.
Sep 6, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro (30) hits an RBI double during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Looking into the numbers and the replays a bit closer, it s tough to argue that Navarro and Adam Lind are not deserving of this week s Swagger nod. Navarro batted .400 in 15 plate appearances and scored six RBIs, with confidence and swagger in scoring situations. Lind batted .429 with more at-bats (21) and scored two runs and two RBIs. Navarro produced more runs on less opportunities. Lind was very consistent and calm at the plate.
It s a tough call. Based solely on production in scoring situations, Navarro wins. However, Lind gets the honourable mention. If Lind had that many chances with runners in scoring position, instead of going up often with nobody on base, he may have done the same. If the offseason requires moves to be made, Lind could be a great marketing chip and a valuable asset to lose when he is healthy. At the moment, a good catcher is hard to find and, with the debacle of the Arencibia era, Navarro is a man needed for the future.
Sep 5, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Adam Lind (26) hits an RBI single against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
The pitching staff this week has had some ups and downs. That is the perfect explanation of this week s best Blue Jays pitcher. And for some fans, you likely were not thinking of his name the last two seasons.
R.A. Dickey s knuckleball has been dancing so much lately, it has a chorus line of men striking out left and right. He had two victories in his last two appearances, with a 1.93 ERA. In fourteen innings, Dickey walked only three batters and gave up three runs on eight hits. The knuckle master struck out ten men, seeing the ball go one way and then darting to another like a Jedi mind trick, to the chagrin of a .163 opposing batting average.
The fact is that Dickey has not played like the ace was supposed be the last two seasons. Was he ever going to be the ace? How many ace pitchers do you know who are knuckleballers, who bleed runs inning after inning? Did Tim Wakefield shut teams down with power? Yes, Dickey won the Cy Young Award with the New York Mets before coming to Toronto. That was on a different team, in a different league, in a different division, facing completely different strategies when it comes to hitting.
Lightning in a bottle? Perhaps. However, Toronto needs an ace to steady the rotation. It could be coming from their youth movement, which may scare some fans. It could come from an offseason acquisition, which likely will not happen with a tough budget in the free agent market and the lack of depth in that role in the league. A trade could be possible. Does that make Dickey expendable? Or, the way Dickey played this week, does that make veteran pitcher Mark Buehrle, who has had a tough few months, expendable?
Either way, enjoy those last few games from Dickey. Regardless of his purpose to Jays fans in the near and far distant future, or in a galaxy far, far away, he has contributed his effort to a last push at the end of the season.
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