Blue Jays: Reading into outfield comments from John Gibbons

ST PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 6: John Gibbons #5 of the Toronto Blue Jays gets ejected in the eighth inning on May 6, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida. The Toronto Blue Jays won 2-1. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 6: John Gibbons #5 of the Toronto Blue Jays gets ejected in the eighth inning on May 6, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida. The Toronto Blue Jays won 2-1. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

Blue Jays’ manager John Gibbons is a big fan of some of the young talent in the organization, and may have tipped his hat on how he sees things playing out in the future.

The Blue Jays managed to salvage a win against Tampa Bay at Tropicana field on Sunday, finishing their road trip at 4-4 despite dropping the series to the Rays. The win was notable for a few reasons, including the first scoreless turn in the rotation for the season by a Blue Jays’ starter. Marco Estrada threw six shutout innings, setting up the Blue Jays to pull out a win later in the game.

It was also John Gibbons‘ second consecutive game being ejected, and third in four games. It also marked the 47th booting of his career, something he’s almost becoming known for in the American League. The most recent ejection wasn’t terribly dramatic, as Gibbons was tossed for coming out to argue a balk call, something a manager is not allowed to do. Despite a brief warning, Gibby came out to say his piece, and left early again after a tough series with the umpiring crew.

It was also the 2018 debut of Anthony Alford, who is widely considered to be the Blue Jays’ #3 prospect behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Alford has struggled through a variety of injuries in his young career including a broken hamate bone in his wrist at the big league level last year, but the raw talent is definitely there. With injuries to Steve Pearce, Randal Grichuk, and Curtis Granderson, Alford is getting an opportunity along with fellow young outfielders in Dalton Pompey, and even Teoscar Hernandez to some extent.

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Gibbons has made no secret of how big of a fan he is of Teoscar Hernandez, and that he’d like to see him stick with the big league club regardless of what happens, and despite the fact that he’s one of just a few “experienced” players with minor league options. He’s been positive about other young players in the past as well, and it sounds like Anthony Alford is quickly joining that group on the forefront of the skipper’s mind.

The problem is, of course, that eventually those veterans will be healthy enough to return, which will complicate things for sure. They won’t be able to keep all four outfielders they broken camp with, and hang on to Teoscar Hernandez and Anthony Alford. It would be surprising to see Hernandez optioned at this point at all, but we’ll see how the roster crunch works if and when that time ever comes. That said, it sounds like Gibby is already dreaming up a few lineup cards.

The future is an entirely different story, even if this season’s roster is slowly but surely evolving into a younger team before our eyes. Some of that is out of necessity because of injury, but with every talented performance coming from the likes of a Hernandez or Alford, the more enticing it becomes.

We also have to take the comments with a grain of salt, as GIbbons often makes statements that are lacking any kind of deeper or hidden meaning. However, in this case he mentioned that he could see Hernandez and Alford “anchoring a couple corner spots in this outfield”. That statement could be interpreted a few different ways, and again, to be taken with a grain of salt.

Both Hernandez and Alford have experience in centre field, with the latter having a particularly good skill set for the position. However, at the moment that spot is occupied by Kevin Pillar, who has arguably been the best player on the Jays’ roster this season. Obviously Alford and Hernandez aren’t going to be taking Pillar’s spot any time soon, but there were plenty of writers and fans wondering about that very possibility as recently as this offseason, myself included.

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There are dozens of variables that could change the dynamic of the Blue Jays’ outfield in the near, and long term future. For now you can fully expect the Blue Jays to see what they have in Alford, and Hernandez to a lesser extent, and I imagine the front office will continue to evaluate the roster throughout the season. As far as Gibby is concerned though, that one statement leads me to believe that he has faith in Kevin Pillar both now, and going forward.