The Jays need a left-field solution, and fast


The 2015 non-waiver trade deadline looms in the not so distant future with a marginal team like the Blue Jays antsy to enter stardom, embarking on a noble quest for the American League Pennant. But they have so many potential holes to plug.

Indefinitely, they need a starter and more than likely a reliever but is that all? Take one close look and you’ll notice they are in desperate need of some left field assistance as well. According to FanGraphs, the Jays rank last in league defensive efficiency with a despicable -9 DRS–about the sabremetric equivalent of one win–and a -28 UZR/150.

Glance at the crop of eight fielders who’ve spent time there this season, and you start to understand why they are where they are. One of the worst, even though he’s the third most played, is Mr.

Ezequiel Carrera

. Jays fans need not watch the video below to remember the horrible impact of such defensive incompetence.

But he’s not the worst.

Chris Colabello

, the hit-for-average with no on-base skills machine, has played more innings and ranks slightly worse with an egregious -7 DRS. It’s honestly quite remarkable that he has managed an above replacement level performance with such poor defensive acumen.

Some say, the Jays would benefit from going after a left fielder but in reality there are a couple of options they have internally still yearning for exploration. First, and most obvious, is the new and still premature Blue Jay Michael Saunders.

Saunders was brought in last off-season in hopes of replacing Melky Cabrera with a more Canadian and defensively minded approach. Unfortunately he was injured in spring training and after returning was sidelined again on May 10 with further knee complications. The last report, in late June had him close to returning to weight bearing exercises but obviously still weeks away before a rehab stint of any kind is announced. Essentially, Saunders’s return would line-up parallel with the trade deadline anyways, making an authoritative move for another outfielder essentially obsolete.

The second option could potentially be equally as prosperous, although rife with risk and uncertainty. This is the recourse of prospect and former big leaguer Dalton Pompey.

More from Jays Journal

As many Jays fans will remember, Pompey started the 2015 season with Toronto but after batting .193/.264/.337 in 23 games, the Jays demoted him to Triple-A Buffalo. There he was marginally better this time producing a .209/.294/.253 slash before again being demoted to Double-A New Hampshire. There he fell into his niche. In 28 games–his most of any level this season– Pompey is hitting .358/.414/.558 with six home runs.

At no point, even in his brief major league stint, was Pompey a defensive god but neither was he a run prevention liability either. At most, he was major league replacement level and with any refinement he’s made at the minor league level since, he could be even better than that.

The caveat to promoting Pompey however invites a myriad of other accompanying problems. The easy solution would be to promote him until Saunders returns and is able to take over. At that point you could send him back down or platoon him with centre fielder Kevin Pillar.

The latter of those two options shouldn’t be the answer for any knowledgable front office with intentions of developing strong prospects. The best way to develop Pompey, and his bat, is to give him regular playing time. It would certainly be much harder to develop as a player and a commodity playing in only a third of games.

Apr 30, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Michael Saunders (21) hits an RBI single during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

It’s an axiom witnessed across baseball, more notably in the Chicago Cubs’s system with Kyle Schwarber. In the need, Schwarber was promoted to the majors for a six game cup-of-coffee where he hit .364 worth an impressive 0.2 WAR, the same value as Colabello shockingly. Once the Cubs moved out of interleague play, thus losing the DH, they demoted Schwarber with the thought of him getting the most amount of at-bats as possible, allowing him to continue feasting on Triple-A pitching until the Cubs have the everyday role he deserves on their roster.

Of course, there is the possibility of using Pompey as trade bait. After all, Baseball America’s 29th ranked prospect is nothing to shake a stick at and could potentially land quite the catch. Given the Jays depth at the outfield position with up-and-coming prospect Anthony Alford, maybe the trade route is the best to go in hopes of avoiding dealing pitching prospects Jeff Hoffman and Daniel Norris.

Seemingly everywhere on the Jays roster GM Alex Anthopoulos has a lot to work with. To quote one of his idols, Warren Buffet, who told Coca-Cola CEO that he likes to study failure while looking for success. “We want to see what causes businesses to go bad, and the biggest thing that kills them is complacency,” he said, unknowingly pointing to how Anthopoulos should feel in the coming weeks. “You want a restlessness, a feeling that someone’s always after you, but you’re going to stay ahead.”