Blue Jays Picking up Cliff Pennington was Brilliant

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Devon Travis‘ injury was a hit to the Toronto Blue Jays lineup. His bat was a great addition to the bottom of this very potent order. But, without it, they would be fine. The big surprise with Travis’ 2015 was that he was playing great defense at second base. We’d heard how his glove wouldn’t play at the big league level. It played just fine, thank you very much. Which is why, when he looked to be done for the season, the Blue Jays had to make a move.

They looked to the desert in Arizona and brought in Cliff Pennington. The move was merely a depth trade. Sending Dawel Lugo to the Diamondbacks brought in a guy that can play multiple infield positions rather well. The move allowed Ryan Goins to start everyday and keeps the backup option of Munenori Kawasaki less prominent. We all love Kawasaki, but he should not see regular playing time.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

The move for Pennington and the recent trade for Darwin Barney highlight an increased emphasis on run prevention. With this lineup, GM, Alex Anthopoulos can focus on defense rather than trying to bring in heavy bats. And, he did. After watching his team struggle defensively in the past, he took great pain to make it a priority. Pennington provides the Blue Jays with a substitution that does not cost runs. This is important in times of injury.

And, that has become just the situation that has played out in Toronto. Troy Tulowitzki will be out for a while with a cracked shoulder blade, thanks to a collision with Kevin Pillar. Enter Cliff Pennington. He came in to the game when Tulo was pulled and stayed in through the second game of Saturday’s double header. And, watching him play has been fun! He’s made several very fine plays that have made us take notice.

In this first game on Saturday, he ranged to his left and snagged one to keep the game tied. On Sunday, he made a couple nice plays to help his team out. An over the shoulder catch ranging toward foul territory was a beauty. His play on a Carlso Beltran grounder that he had to fire cross body to make the out was pretty, too. Oh, and he had a home run on Saturday too.

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Now, reality is not lost, here. Pennington is not going to hit many home runs. He may not hit another all season. And, he won’t be making highlight plays every night. And, they don’t need him to. He was brought in to be a plug in guy who is going to keep things even. We can apply the same thought we hear a lot about catchers: ‘You don’t need to help your team with the bat, just don’t hurt them with the glove’. Pennington will do this and do it well.

When they acquired Cliff Pennington, the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t need a big bat or a Gold Glove defender. They needed a bench player who could be serviceable in case of off days or injuries. This series against the New York Yankees has shown that he is just that. Among several high impact, flashy moves this summer, the trade for Pennington was a brilliant understated one.

Next: Price Check: Blue Jays Made the Right Choice at Trade Deadline

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