Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
This week at Big League Chew, Ryan Mueller (@MuellerRyan11) and I (@JaysFromCouch) take a look at the potential needs the Blue Jays will have coming into the off season. We’re basing this discussion on a piece Yahoo! Sports by Israel Fehr. Fehr looks at the impending free agency of Melky Cabrera, J.A. Happ, Casey Janssen and Colby Rasmus. Like so many others, he emphasizes that the Toronto Blue Jays have an urgency in their outfield. Mueller and I discuss this idea further:
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SD: Well, I think Alex Anthopoulos has a point, the outfield is the priority. His number one job is to re-sign Melky Cabrera. Period. Everything else can wait. Lets assume, AA thinks the same way and he gets Melky to sign. Which, by the way, may (and should) be difficult. He’s coming off a great season and teams may line up to sign him. The Blue Jays have a short window right now to get exclusive negotiating rights. They could use their qualifying offer on him, but that isn’t a guarantee.
Anyway, let’s say the two sides do come to some sort of agreement. With his biggest problem out of the way (the outfield), he should turn his attention to the rotation and the bullpen. I have an idea for 2nd and 3rd in a bit. Unlike last off season, AA has to work quickly and pick up a starter. I know there are young guns and whatnot, but to really contend, an attempt has to be made to get a starter. Many may disagree, but to expect Stroman, Sanchez et al to carry the Jays to the post season in 2015 is not realistic. The next focus should be the end of the bullpen. I’m kind of OK with Janssen walking. I am one of those who don’t really think the closer role is all its cracked up to be. But to think Morrow is a cheaper option might be a tad silly. Assuming the Blue Jays exercise the buy out on his contract, do you really think he’s going to say “Sure, I’ll sign with you guys for less money.”? Other teams may be willing to give him a shot. It only takes one. He’s not going to take a huge pay cut to close.
“I don’t care what Bautista “prefers”. In my opinion, players don’t get to choose. They should do what they’re told. And, a true leader will do just that.”
As for 2nd and 3rd. Here’s my idea: Brett Lawrie plays 2nd, Jose Bautista plays 3rd. With Melky re-signed, Gose and Pillar could fill the outfield. Since it looks like the Jays are going to let these two take the field anyway, this might be the best situation for the club. I don’t care what Bautista “prefers”. In my opinion, players don’t get to choose. They should do what they’re told. And, a true leader will do just that.
RM: I don’t want to ever see Jose Bautista play third again. If he remains a Blue Jay through the offseason, his future is at 1st and DH….but not until 2016 at least. He needs to stay healthy for the Jays to contend. The biggest injury to effect the Jays season came when Maicer Izturis went down. What I mean by that is that it really put the lineup in a state of flux. We have Izturis back next year…hopefully it is the 2014 Izturis and not the 2013 Izturis. Leave Lawrie at 3rd, keep Danny Valencia to platoon, play Izturis at 2nd and Goins can be your bench guy. That is my take on the infield situation.
Signing Melky is a no-brainer. If they don’t sign Melky and plan to go into the season with Bautista, Pillar, Gose, and Mayberry as your outfielder, then you may as well blow it up. I am not kidding. Casey Janssen can walk….it sucks because he is my favourite Jay. I think that we have enough guys in our system to fill his role. I like Dustin McGowan in that role, if he can cut down the walks. Let’s not rule out Steve Delabar. I also agree 110% that we can’t depend on Sanchez and Norris to take us to the October. They will have inning limits again next season. Stroman is good…no limit.
SD: No limit to the #StroShow! Love it. I also agree that if they do not plan on re-signing Melky and go with the 4 outfielders that you listed, they might as well blow everything up. Seriously. Start from scratch. But, I totally disagree that Izturis is the starting 2B next year. Really? You’re joking, right? You’d rather have Izturis start at 2B over Lawrie. Yes, Bautista certainly can play 3rd. And, if it makes the team better, he better do it with a smile. I don’t care what he or you say. And, the way I see it, him there (meaning Lawrie at 2B), is the better idea for the infield than the mediocre hitting option you suggested. We’re stuck with Valencia, so you get that one. I want to see Goins hit, or see him in AAA. I’m not messing around. I’d rather see regular at bats go to Gose and Pillar than Izturis and Goins. On my beer league team, we do a total bases team bet. We split up 4 or 5 guys on two teams within our team to see who can total the most bases. Imagine how that contest would work between Gose/Pillar and Izturis/ Goins. You know who would win. And, if it works in a beer league, it’s GOTTA work in the big leagues.
RM: Hey everyone look this something that Shaun and I don’t agree on. I would rather sign Mark Reynolds to play 3rd base before pissing off Jose in an option year, plus that last thing I want to do is watch Jose hanging his lip for 162 games in 2015. Here are your 2nd base MLB free-agents for 2015:
Maybe a pissed off Bautista doesn’t look too bad.
We know that Tampa will not be buying out Zobrist, so cross him off. I would have zero faith in anyone over 35, so that leaves Rickie Weeks, Kelly Johnson, and some guy by the name of Emilio Bonifacio. So, yeah, I am good with Macier Izturis and Ryan Goins at 2nd. I view Lawrie like a carton of eggs…one wrong move and he is on the 60-day DL. Now what?
SD: I think the only way to improve at 3rd is via trade (even if Gibby LOVES Valencia). Considering the number of arms that have jumped through the system and how many spots there are for them, I wouldn’t be surprised to see AA use one or two of them to improve the infield. Whether that means 2nd or 3rd remains to be seen. Then, you and everyone else, can relax about keeping Jose Bautista happy. Regardless, none of this can happen if they don’t lock up Melky. There is a very clear priority as a starting point, here.
RM: So we agree that Casey’s and Colby’s days as a Jay are numbered and re-signing Melky is a must. If you combine Melky’s and Rasmus’ salary there should be enough money to re-sign Melky. I could see Morrow and Happ coming back as both are somewhat cheap for experienced starters on a one year deal.
SD: Happ is coming back. He may be on the bubble yet again, though. With R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison, Stroman and Sanchez/Norris, the Blue Jays may look to keep him as a back up. Then again, they may feel comfortable in letting him go. Though, that would be silly. You never have enough pitching. And, yes bring Melky back. It all starts with a healthy serving of Melky. Hopefully, the Melkman rings twice.