In his latest at Fox Sports– y’know, unless he wrote something between 11:20 and now– Ken Rosenthal takes the path of least resistance in a large piece on the Jays, arguing that the Escobar incident underscores the club’s desperate need for some veteran leadership.
He even goes to the trouble of defusing my first line of indignant questioning, noting that “some might ask, ‘Wait, isn’t it the manager’s job to lead?’ Yes, but there is only so much a manager can do. The Jays’ John Farrell isn’t a baby-sitter; he shouldn’t need to walk from player to player, inspecting their eye black. The best teams police themselves — and if the Jays want Farrell to sign an extension beyond next season, Anthopoulos should be doubly motivated to clean up the Jays’ act.”
None of that is untrue, of course, though it’s not like Farrell is entirely on his own– Torey Lovullo, Dwayne Murphy, Don Wakamatsu, Luis Rivera, Bruce Walton, Pete Walker, and occasionally Pat Hentgen and Chad Mottola happen to be around too, you know. But I get that there’s a different dynamic between the players themselves and the members of the coaching staff, so maybe you can’t quite say that their presence ought to be enough.
Nor can you say that, apparently, of clubhouse veterans Darren Oliver (bullpen guy!), Omar Vizquel (beyond reproach!), and Jose Bautista, who Rosenthal explains, “should be the model, but he spent the first two months bickering with umpires, setting the wrong example.”
He also wasn’t with the club when the incident took place, but apparently that’s neither here nor there.
Rosenthal also, somewhat oddly, reminds us that for much of the year, “the clubhouse was not thought to be an issue; if anything, the Jays’ youthful exuberance seemed like part of their appeal. In early March, I wrote, ‘If there was a spring training award for best clubhouse vibe, it just might go to the Toronto Blue Jays.’ ”
And honestly… whatever.
This veteran stuff makes a cute framework for an article, but the meat of what Rosenthal is saying– what little of it there is– comes from elsewhere.
“The trick now is for the Jays to surround their preferred youngsters with the right type of veteran talent,” he says, and “the good news is the Jays seem to understand what they’re missing. They plan to shop aggressively this offseason, looking for solutions at second, in left field and most of all in their starting rotation.”
Nothing new here, no, but he reiterates the common belief that Escobar “is a goner,” while lauding the character of Adeiny Hechavarria and Anthony Gose, who figures to eventually replace the “self-assured one moment, full of self-doubt the next” Colby Rasmus.
“And Travis D’Arnaud, who did not play after June 25 due to a torn knee ligament, still looms as the catcher of the future,” he adds. “Until then, Arencibia”– who, along with Lawrie, walks “a fine line between confidence and know-it-all arrogance”– “will remain a durable, inexpensive alternative.
Yep… still not a whole lot of new information, is there? But hey, at least there’s more of the same kind of platitudes about the potential for off-season craziness that we saw last year, as Rosenthal explains that “the Jays are deep in prospects, free of bad contracts. They’ve got the currency to improve, both in free agency and trades.”
Yep. Now they just need to go out and do it. Like, for reals this time. Veterans, rookies, whoever. As long as they can play.