The Blue Jays are going through a pretty terrible stretch right now, and while it’s been a team effort in futility, it’s time to do something about the outfield.
Wednesday night the Blue Jays mercifully ended their series against the Minnesota Twins having been outscored 27-1 in a three-game stretch. For a rebuilding team, fans should expect there to be significant highs and lows throughout the season, but the pummeling at the hands of the Twins was pretty tough to stomach.
Obviously, it was a team-wide effort when you only score one run in three games, but as I look at the team’s depth chart there are some problems that are more obvious than others. In particular, I’m wondering how much longer Ross Atkins and the front office will wait before they make some significant changes to the outfield depth chart, as my colleague Clayton Richer asked yesterday.
We’ve talked about this a fair bit regularly here lately, mostly because the organization has started to give both Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. reps in the outfield as they play in Triple-A with the Buffalo Bisons. The positional flexibility will make them both an easier fit with the big league club in the future, but the play of their big league colleagues may push their promotions to happen whether they’re ready or not.
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Starting with Randal Grichuk, he’s been a disappointment of sorts so far but has been by far the best of the lot. He’s currently slashing .248/.303/.418 with five home runs and 14 RBI in 141 at bats. Again, not what the Blue Jays or the fan base is hoping for from the recently extended centre-fielder, but he’s hardly the biggest problem.
The futility of Socrates Brito has been well documented, and after another three-strikeout performance on Wednesday night I don’t know how much longer they can justify giving him a roster spot, even if they feel the replacements aren’t ready. I scoffed at the news that the Jays had signed Ben Revere a few weeks back, but right now I’d much rather see him in the outfield than continue to be confused by Brito’s presence. This one is a no-brainer, and it’s time to move on.
Sadly, I don’t think Brito is the only one the Blue Jays are going to have to do something about though. Teoscar Hernandez‘s struggles are starting to pile up in a hurry, and he’s now hitting just .195/.264/.295 in 113 at-bats. His defence has shown some slight improvements from the train wreck we saw last year, but he’s really fishing at the plate right now, and it might be time to let him have a re-set in Buffalo, even if that might sound a little extreme. He does have two options left though, and unless he can shake off this funk in a hurry, it might be time to use them.
I think we’d be talking about Billy McKinney‘s disappointing start a lot more as well if not for the poor play of his outfield counterparts. He’s been a little better recently, picking up five hits over his current four-game hit streak, but he’s still slashing just .240/.287/.370. He hasn’t been great on defence so far either, coming in with a -0.2 dWAR rating so far according to baseballreference.com.
When you add in the cold stretch from the more reliable contributors like Justin Smoak, Freddy Galvis, and the other recently hot bats like Brandon Drury and Eric Sogard, it’s no wonder that the offence is scuffling right now. Even the great Vladimir Guerrero Jr‘s first 10 games have been a big disappointment, even if he’s looked better than the numbers show.
With so much talent in the infield, a shuffle of the deck there is inevitable at some point too, but it doesn’t feel as pretty as what’s going on in the outfield right now. It’s a crying shame that Dalton Pompey hasn’t been healthy enough to get a chance in the early part of the season, and it’s too bad Anthony Alford hasn’t played better in Buffalo either. Because right now, the Blue Jays’ outfield jobs should be ripe for the picking, and it’s probably time that Ross Atkins and company do something about it.