Blue Jays: Evaluating the first half of a difficult 2019 season

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 20: Teoscar Hernandez #37 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a 2 run home run and celebrates with Marcus Stroman #6 in the first inning during a MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Rogers Centre on June 20, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 20: Teoscar Hernandez #37 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a 2 run home run and celebrates with Marcus Stroman #6 in the first inning during a MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Rogers Centre on June 20, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – APRIL 26: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks to the media before introducing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 before his MLB debut later tonight against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre on April 26, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – APRIL 26: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks to the media before introducing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 before his MLB debut later tonight against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre on April 26, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

The front office

Speaking of Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro, I’m not going to let them off the hook here for how the season has gone on the field.

You can argue that the players have underperformed and in most cases that would be true, but there’s a reason that not many people are calling for Charlie Montoyo’s job even though he’s started out by going 23 games under .500 this year. That’s because this team was built to lose this year, and that’s not the manager’s fault.

It’ll all pay off if this rebuild becomes a successful one in a few years, but right now the Blue Jays have a lot of work to do in order to get this team back to being competitive. It’s going to take time for their best prospects to develop at the highest level, but they’re also going to need to add some pitching, likely an outfielder or two, and eventually some veterans to top things off.

I’ll hand it to the front office because there have been a few decisions that have really paid off. The Trent Thornton trade for Aledmys Diaz looks like a steal so far, and moving Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to the outfield has really changed his season and maybe his career. They did very well to turn Roberto Osuna into a dominant Ken Giles (plus more), and I’ve liked many of their recent draft picks.

I can’t compliment them without picking on a few decisions they’ve made as well though. Anyone who has been paying attention at all this year won’t forget (but would like to) the names of Socrates Brito and Alen Hanson, and trade acquisitions like Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney really haven’t worked out that well so far.

They also chose to extend Randal Grichuk early in the year for five years and 52 million dollars. I’ll admit that I thought it was a fantastic idea at the time, but I also understand why many folks are questioning the timing of the deal based on his performance in the first half. The contract should still work out just fine and it’s not going to prohibit them from doing anything going forward, but Grichuk hasn’t been the same player we saw in the second half of the 2018 campaign.

The biggest test for this front office will come in July when they make their decisions on guys like Stroman, Giles, and possibly others like Sanchez, Galvis, Justin Smoak and others, If they can bring back some badly needed pieces to help in the near future, then maybe they can change the narrative. Right now the fan base isn’t so pumped on how things have been going, and rightfully so.

First-half rating: D-

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