Calling up Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will help the roster, and it should boost fan interest as well. Maybe the front office cares about fan interest after all.
Through the 2019 season, there has been a section of the Blue Jays’ fan base that has been understandably upset with the state of the rebuild. It’s not easy to watch your favourite team go through a losing season, and seeing a big market team like the Blue Jays spending around 65 million on their roster is a bit of a head-turner, without knowing the context at least.
This writer recently appeared on a podcast with Ari Shapiro, and I argued that I’ve been okay with the Blue Jays sacrificing this season if it means significant development for their talented young players. Guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Rowdy Tellez, Danny Jansen, Trent Thornton and a host of others can benefit greatly from getting big league experience and not having the pressure to win right away. It’s also easy to see that those players could be significant pieces to a winning puzzle with a season under their belts.
However, the only major frustration I mentioned in my rant was that while I’ve been okay with watching guys like Jansen struggle for the greater good, it’s harder to understand why players like Socrates Brito and Alen Hanson got such a long look. Unfortunately, we might be able to say the same about guys like Billy McKinney and Teoscar Hernandez as well.
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No sooner did I gripe about that situation (the podcast was published yesterday), the Blue Jays went out and did exactly what I and most of the fan base had been hoping to see for a few weeks now. They announced that they’ll be promoting both Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. tomorrow from Buffalo, a move that should bring excitement to a frustrated fan base.
Let’s be clear, Biggio and Gurriel Jr. aren’t going to turn the Blue Jays into a contender overnight, but having them in the lineup on the regular makes the game more exciting for fans at the ballpark and at home, and it also provides the youngsters with the valuable experience they need. As talented as they are, they’re going to need time to adjust to the big leagues (in Gurriel’s case, re-adjust), and that doesn’t always happen right away. I mean, we even saw Guerrero Jr. struggle through his first couple of weeks.
Biggio is a bit different because this is the big league debut for the 24-year-old, and one that we didn’t really know when it would happen. He’s been mashing Triple-A pitching this season after winning the MVP in the Double-A Eastern League last year, but the Blue Jays have played a slow hand with their prospects in many cases. However, it’s exciting to see the son of a Hall of Famer getting his first taste of the big leagues, and I believe it sends the right message to the fan base.
Maybe promoting him around now was always part of the plan, but what it says to me is that the front office a) acknowledges that he’s ready, b) recognizes that the others aren’t getting it done, and c) maybe even care about fan interest, even in a lost 2019 season.
I would mostly agree with the old saying that a “front office that listens to the fan base ends up joining them”, but I think it’s important to be mindful of the fans as well, even if you can’t let them dictate what happens with the roster. That said, now that the shine has worn off of Vlad Jr’s debut a little bit, bringing Biggio and Gurriel Jr. up to join the team will give them a different look, and a better glimpse at the future of this group.
If you think about a lineup that could now feature six rookies/new big leaguers (Guerrero Jr., Biggio, Jansen, Tellez, Jonathan Davis, and Gurriel Jr.), That’s the kind of thing that will excite at least the informed fan base. And when they get that experience under their belt and are eventually joined by others like Bo Bichette, Nate Pearson, and more, the rest of the bandwagon will catch up in a hurry.
In my mind, it’s acceptable if the 2019 season is a sacrificial campaign for the good of long term development. However, in order for that to happen, the right players need to be on the field. Getting Biggio and Gurriel Jr. to Toronto was a big step in the right direction, and might even be a sign that this front office is listening, at least in the right ways.