Blue Jays manager John Gibbons spoke this morning on his first base platoon, the knee of Michael Saunders and the lineup spot of Troy Tulowitzki
John Gibbons is always good for a sound byte, but through the early stages of the MLB Winter Meetings, he’s also been good for the odd bit of useful information. Earlier this morning he shed some light on the Blue Jays first base situation and the state of several rostered players entering 2016.
Colabello getting the nod against a majority share of right-handed pitchers would potentially give him the inside track on the lion’s share of starts alongside Edwin Encarnacion in the 1B/DH picture. Justin Smoak‘s recent one-year deal came in a little richer than many assumed, but when balanced off by the value rate of Colabello, the two combine to provide a decent starting option and quality bench bat.
Against right-handed pitching in 2015, Colabello managed an .868 OPS compared to Smoak’s mark of .757. Colabello was even stronger against the lefties, but Smoak was no slouch himself with an .839 OPS and 14 of his 18 home runs. That figures to be where his primary work will come. Some level of platoon split there would keep both involved, and if Colabello gets the majority share, there’s some value in learning early on if his BABIP-heavy success from 2015 is sustainable.
The Tulowitzki quote will draw a sigh of relief from some and a groan from others, but regardless of the corner you’re standing in, this was the likeliest outcome. The lines coming out of the Blue Jays front office suggest they’re in no rush to trade from their left field depth, including Ben Revere, which could point to him being back in the leadoff role to open 2016.
Tulowitzki would likely slot into the number five spot behind Edwin Encarnacion, then move into a three or four role entering 2017 if/when one of Bautista or Encarnacion leave via free agency. For the sake of linking some of these Gibby quotes together, the organization’s lack of urgency with regards to trading outfield depth could be related to…
That’s not the most exciting news you’ll read today, and I’ve already got visions of “soreness” dancing in my head this Holiday Season. A healthy Saunders offers a good deal of potential with his all-around tools, but if lingering knee issues leave him constantly at 90% and lacking explosion on defense or the base paths, that’s bad news in Blue Jays land.
The again, it already would have taken a transaction involving Revere or injury in the outfield to give Saunders a dose of regular playing time. In a reserve role, and keeping his knee fresh, having Saunders as the fourth man instead of Ezequiel Carrera is a reason to be happy about the 2016 Blue Jays. There are several others, but lets not get too wild.