Blue Jays: Time to take the kid gloves off with Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 19: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays in position during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 19, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 19: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays in position during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 19, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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I understand that stars, and even potential stars get special treatment, but it’s time the Blue Jays took the kid gloves off when dealing with Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

It’s been an interesting year so far for Vladimir Guerrero Jr., especially because a lot has changed for the 21-year-old over the last few months.

He started out the first training camp as a third baseman and the Blue Jays remained adamant that he would stay there for the time being. However, by the time that he returned for “summer camp” and the Blue Jays weren’t as pleased with his conditioning the second time around, it was decided that the would move to first base, while also spending more time at designated hitter.

It’s been a struggle for the Canadian-born youngster, both at the plate and adjusting to his new positions. So far he’s slashing just .245/.321/.429 with four home runs, four doubles, and only seven RBI over his first 98 at-bats. He’s been looking more confident at the plate lately, but we’re still not seeing the Vlad Jr. that we were expecting. As for the defence, he’s had a few adventures at the cold corner already as he’s adjusted to the switch, and the results haven’t always been pretty. So far he’s been worth -0.3 dWAR according to baseball reference, and that’s after just 15 games.

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As concerning as some elements of his season have been so far, I’m not sure that I’m a fan of the way the Blue Jays are handling him right now, which is something that was discussed during Sunday’s broadcast. Of his 26 appearances, he’s played just 15 games at first base, and received his second consecutive start as the designated hitter on Sunday. I’m not particularly fond of seeing a 21-year-old being used as the DH half of the time, but it was even more concerning to hear Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez talk about why it’s been that way. The Blue Jays reportedly are going to extra lengths to keep Vlad Jr. healthy, which is something he struggled with a bit in 2020.

It’s only natural that they’d want one of their more potentially dangerous hitters to stay on the field, and I’m in support of his moving away from third base as part of the plan to achieve that. That said, he’s been healthy (as far as we know), and it feels like these are pretty extreme lengths to go to, especially when we’re talking about such a young man. I understand if the Blue Jays want to use Tellez more at first base until Vlad Jr. has had more reps and improved at first, but the idea that they feel he needs to DH two games in a row is troublesome, even with a jam-packed schedule.

Maybe it’s been the way they’ve managed him so far that has helped him stay on the field, and that’s a win to a certain degree. That said, it might be time to take the kid gloves off when dealing with the former top rated prospect in baseball, and push him to start meeting the expectations that have been set out for him. By comparison, Cavan Biggio has roughly the same MLB experience, and he’s been asked to play all over the diamond while barely getting a day off. Vlad Jr. isn’t going to become a utility man by any means, but he should be able to handle playing first base on a regular basis.

Next. Blue Jays acquire Dan Vogelbach from the Mariners. dark

I understand that there are a lot of variables at play with Vlad Jr. including his performance, his fitness, and several other factors. That said, if he’s going to reach his potential in the big leagues and become the star so many of us believe he can be, it might be time to start pushing him in that direction.

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