Maicer Izturis: Toronto Blue Jays 2014 Year in Review

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Maicer Izturis was a footnote on the Toronto Blue Jays season in 2014, quickly forgotten by fans after suffering a season-ending injury just two weeks into April.  The pint-sized Venezuelan joined the Jays in 2013 on a 3-year, $9M contract which keeps him in Toronto through 2015.  His contract features a $3M team option for the 2016 season, with a $1M buyout.

The 34-year old Izturis spent most of his career as a member of the Los Angeles Angels, but has Canadian ties with his MLB debut coming in 2004 as a member of the Montreal Expos.

The loss of Maicer Izturis flew under the radar this Summer.  His veteran presence and reliable production, albeit unspectacular, could have been a calming presence at 2nd base for the Blue Jays.  Izturis opened the season with every opportunity to solidify himself as the lead man at 2nd, but on April 13th, an unlucky slip down the dugout steps resulted in a torn lateral collateral ligament in his left knee.

2014 did little to clarify the situation at 2nd for the Blue Jays.  Maicer Izturis could have the inside track to win the job back as a dark horse candidate through Spring Training in 2015.

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The Good

With a lost season, it is necessary to widen the scope a bit when discussing Izturis, and look at his production over the past few seasons.  Izturis is not about to enter the prime of his career, so Blue Jays fans will need to keep expectations realistic, but his style of play could still enable him to produce respectable numbers.

Maicer Izturis is switch-hitter in the truest sense of the word, with very similar splits from both sides of the plate.  On a team riddled with half-players that make platoons a necessity, a “complete” game such as Izturis’ would be a welcome addition.

A professional hitter, Izturis excels at making contact and putting balls in play.  Situational hitting is an area in which the Blue Jays will hope to improve in 2015, and although a well-placed ground ball will not change the course of a season, it could still win a ball game.  His career high for strikeouts is just 65, which came in a season where he played 122 games.

Defensively, Izturis’ main appeal comes in his versatility.  Even at his age, he should be able to give the Blue Jays dependable D at 3rd, 2nd, or even shortstop in a pinch.  In the situation that the Blue Jays upgrade at 2nd base, where there is plenty of room to do so, Izturis could allow Alex Anthopoulos greater roster flexibility by limiting the need for multiple reserve infielders.

The Bad

The Blue Jays might be able to tread water with Maicer Izturis as their 2nd baseman, but he would be yet another bandaid on one of Toronto’s longest standing areas of weakness.  Ryan Goins is sure to push for playing time if he can turn things around at the plate, but there is a reason that the Blue Jays could be buyers at this position in Free Agency.

Izturis’ numbers from the past two seasons could be attributed to health issues and inconsistent playing time, but one has to wonder if they are representative of a greater oncoming decline.  As a veteran contact hitter, I feel confident that Izturis can still put the bat on the ball, but how will he return from this latest injury?

Much like Jose Reyes, Maicer Izturis may not be a dream matchup with the Rogers Centre turf.  As long as he can stay healthy, however, he should be able to deliver starts that are low-end, but serviceable.  As obscure as this may sound, Maicer Izturis can put up a more effective 0-4 than someone like 2014’s Juan Francisco.  In moving runners and extending at-bats, perhaps Izturis can begin to make up for what appears to be a dip in offensive production.

The Future

There are certainly worse situations than the Blue Jays opening the 2015 season with Maicer Izturis starting at 2B.  His contract will surely keep him in Toronto this offseason, but if 2015 does not go as planned, he could quickly become a tradable commodity.

The ideal situation for Izturis is likely for him to be used as a super-utility in the Blue Jays infield.  This would allow him to see enough play to stay sharp, and allow the Blue Jays to still field a lineup without glaring holes when one of their starters receives a day of rest.  Of course, this requires the addition of a clear starting 2B to be possible.  Maicer Izturis will not be a dominant player for the Blue Jays in 2015, but he should be a player that every fan is happy to have on the 25-man roster.