After yesterday’s heavy dose of realism, Jays fans demanded that Keith Law, the obliterator of all their little hopes and dreams, come forth and defend his absurd views on Dustin McGowan!
Or… probably it was just his contract with TSN Radio. Or maybe they just asked.
Either way, KLaw hit the airwaves– the free, public airwaves that I can quote anything from with a clear conscience, I should add– this afternoon and elaborated on what he saw yesterday when he took in the epic Grapefruit League tilt between the Jays and the Astros in Kissimmee.
And, actually, he skipped a lot of the stuff about McGowan. Or… probably I just tuned in a little too late to catch it.
What I did hear was pretty seriously awesome, especially where two the players I’d like to see the Jays not dick around are concerned: Kyle Drabek and Travis Snider.
He also talked Anthony Gose, Travis d’Arnaud, about the back of the rotation in general, and followed up his piece from yesterday with some activity in the comments.
Law told Bryan Hayes that Drabek “showed me three weapons, showed me he was on line to the plate and could repeat that for three innings, and showed me he could throw strikes.”
He was pleased with the mechanical adjustments he’s made, and with the fact that Drabek began overthrowing at one point, and corrected the problem on his own. More impressive still, Law reported that Jays executives are saying that Drabek has been throwing even better than he did yesterday.
Rather than McGowan– who realistically is probably going to be relegated to the bullpen at some point, and can only have maybe 10 starts expected of him, especially with the way they’re going to have to be careful with his arm– he thinks Drabek is the Jays’ best option for their last rotation spot.
And as far as the back of the rotation goes, he thinks they’re in pretty good shape. They’re not as flashy as some of the prospects coming in behind them, but KLaw figures that Deck McGuire and Chad Jenkins could help at some point this year. “That’s what it didn’t make sense to me that they’d go out and get a guy like Gavin Floyd,” he says, unless it was for fifty cents on the dollar. The Jays have the back-end depth to be just fine, so unless they were getting a front-of-the-rotation guy, what’s the point?
When the conversation shifted to the left field battle, Law didn’t hesitate in saying that “this is a no brainer for me that it should be Snider.”
He noted that it wasn’t without risk, but the mechanical adjustments he’s made are giving him a better chance to get to balls he wouldn’t have previously, Law says.
Thames, on the other hand, is more of a mistake hitter– not to mention a below average defensive outfielder.
Snider should be getting developmental at-bats to see if he can be the star everybody thought he could, Law says. But even if he doesn’t, he doesn’t buy the notion that he gets dumped or traded. It’s a critical year for Snider, with guys coming behind him trying to establish themselves as well– something he hasn’t faced much over the last few years.
But Law says he thinks this mechanical change is huge for him, saying that if it impacts the way he can drive the ball to his pull side– which so far it appears to have– it will be big.
On that subject, he says that the Jays have a good track record of making mechanical adjustments to their prospects swings– as well as their deliveries (not arm action, however)– and he thinks that Anthony Gose, who he also saw yesterday, may be the best example of it.
In high school Gose was a big bag of tools with a messed up swing, which now looks refined, and is complemented, he says, by game-changing speed. Gose displayed that yesterday, bunting for a hit– and you’ll remember that last year he was asked by the organization not to bunt, so that he could work on other facets of his swing, which certainly would have depressed his on-base numbers.
If he can put it all together, look out. But Law says that he thinks he’s at least a year away. Right now “the recognition of off-speed stuff isn’t there yet to where he could hit more than .240 or .250 in the big leagues,” he tells us.
Moving to the situation behind the plate– which Law’s colleague Buster Olney touched on today at ESPN.com (Insider Olney).
“These guys are special,” an AL evaluator told Olney, referring to JP Arencibia and Travis d’Arnaud, “and they would have to be blown away to trade one of them.”
Law doesn’t think it will be quite that difficult to pry one away, saying that he thinks Arencibia is going to end up shipped out. But he does grant that “he’s going to be a tremendously valuable trade chip.”
We know that Arencibia is a likable catcher who has a rapport with fans, and seems to have the same with his teammates. He can hit for power, and he certainly is capable of getting on base more, but Law feels that after a year, or maybe two-thirds of a year, d’Arnaud will pass him offensively. “He takes better at-bats,” Law says of the Jays top prospect, and he notes that he’s already a better defensive catcher.
Not a bad problem to have.
Lastly, Law didn’t back away from engaging the commenters on his Insider Only piece yesterday for ESPN.com, in which he said that Dustin McGowan looked like “a shadow of what he used to be.”
He noted, as he did on the radio, that he thinks Drabek is a better choice as the Jays’ fifth starter, and that McGowan should go “to the pen in deference to all his arm problems.”
Confronted about how the negative report he gave on McGowan conflicts with “all other reports from Jays actual coaching staff and players in previous outings and side sessions,” Law told a commenter that he was “sorry if it doesn’t fit anyone’s preconceived notions, but given what he showed yesterday and his history of injuries, I’m not optimistic.”
But not before he dipped into his snark well, saying “yeah, because Jays coaches and players are absolutely objective sources on one of their own guys.”
Confronted on that by some poor soul who wondered what the motivation might be for the Jays to not be entirely truthful, he added, “because they’re not going to trash or denigrate the guy publicly. No execs, coaches, or players will ever do that.”
“If you want to swallow their propaganda wholesale, be my guest. I’m here for everyone else.”