Spring is finally over, and the Jays’ roster is set, so… uh… what do we have, exactly?
Melky Cabrera hit the ball hard this spring, and hasn’t shown any signs of shrivelling into the turnip half the world expects him to just yet. I’m sure every idiot with a mouth will be ready to pile on him at the first sign that he might be, so it’s at least good for our collective sanity that he didn’t have an awful spring, not that it means any more than Ryan Braun’s name turning up in a Biogenesis notebook. IT WAS A CONSULTATION, PEOPLE!
The corner outfield spots are some of the better insulated positions for the Jays, with several guys capable of filling in if called on, both in the Majors– Rajai Davis, Emilio Bonifacio– and the minors– Moises Sierra, Anthony Gose. Shit, even Ryan Langerhans has warranted some consideration, should any kind of horrible tragedy occur where none of the other fill-in options are available. And it’s so far so good when it comes to the worries that Cabrera would turn out to be more powdered Melk– if you synthetic testosterone what I’m injecting– than Grade-A unpasteurized awkward food metaphor.
Jose Bautista plays right field for the Toronto Blue Jays, and his wrist looked surprisingly good over the course of the spring. This is a very good thing.
Colby Rasmus had a spring uglier than his home state’s history of race relations, but it caused nothing resembling the category five shitticane that’s followed Ricky Romero around all camp long. I’d like to pretend there’s a rational reason for that, but… everything I’m coming up with kinda looks like bullshit.
I was going to say something like (read: exactly), “You don’t post a second-half wRC+ of fucking thirty-eight and come to camp the next spring ready to keep on keeping on,” but… maybe you do. I’m sure Colby was working on something for the bulk of the spring, but… I dunno, when it came to Romero, the atrocious second half wasn’t forgotten, the very real possibility he felt the lingering effects of injury wasn’t excuse enough, and the idea that he was “working on something” wasn’t enough to obscure his awful spring results. For Rasmus? Sure! Keep on plugging away!
Part of the reason he’s been afforded the freedom is likely Anthony Gose and his continuing lack of anything resembling a two-strike approach– aside, y’know, from the part of spring when Gose was killing pitchers who were trying to get a feel for the zone, and weren’t throwing any breaking stuff. But part of me can’t help but wonder if this is just going to be a much needed additional development year for Gose regardless, and that Emilio Bonifacio is the biggest threat to Colby’s playing time. John Gibbons has already said that Rasmus will cede playing time against certain left fielders, and with a centre-capable player the Jays like very much already on the roster, uh… maybe we should be making more of this.
As long as he keeps himself on the field, Brett Lawrie should be just fine. But until he shows that the mature way that he seems to have handled this spring’s oblique injury is a for real thing, that’s obviously going to be the question– and no matter how much anyone wants to pretend that a bit of magic may have returned to Mark DeRosa’s surgically-botched wrist, or that Maicer Izturis is really an everyday player, it’s kind of a massive one.
Jose fucking Reyes.
The quasi-platoon seems to be shifting towards Emilio Bonifacio– as seemed inevitable as early as when Alex Anthopoulos traded for half the Miami Marlins back in November– with Izturis playing at third base against right-handers while Brett Lawrie is out, allowing Bonifacio a little bit of time to get nice and entrenched… at least until centre duty comes calling. Dun dun dunnnn!!
Is it an issue? Alls I know is that after last May, Kelly Johnson’s best month saw him post a .287 wOBA, and now he’s set for regular-ish playing time with the Rays, so…
Funny how taking a decent fielding third baseman who can’t throw and moving him across the diamond, where the defensive bar is set lower, can turn out to be a fantastic move. Kind doesn’t hurt when a new, two-handed, follow-through leads to a 100 point increase in SLG, and a conscious decision to be more selective leads to a 3.5% better walk rate than his career norm.
Not a lot of depth in the system here, with David Cooper injured and/or released, and Lars Anderson recently dealt, but… it’s not like the Jays wouldn’t be kinda fucked if Encarnacion was forced to miss a lot of time anyway. Could a healthy, repeat performance from Edwin be the true key to the Jays’ playoff hopes? Sure, why not?
J.P. Arencibia is likable enough, will run into enough mistakes, and is backed up by a guy who hasn’t been in more than 75 games in a season since 2004. This should buy him at least a little time before the questions about why he’s not in a platoon with left-handed hitter Josh Thole start coming in full force– provided Thole, well free now of the concussion symptoms that may [note: may] have negatively impacted him, despite his being able to get into games last year, doesn’t happen to just suck.
The Jays seem to like Arencibia, and you’ve got to appreciate the work ethic he showed in making defensive improvements last year and in getting comfortable catching R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball this winter– without a cup, no less! [also: WRITING]– but I just can’t imagine they’re as on board as they’d like everyone to believe with a guy who has posted a .275 on-base over 900 career plate appearances. I tend to believe that the departure of Travis d’Arnaud had a lot more to do with R.A. Dickey– and other strong catching prospects, like Santiago Nessy– than it was a vote of confidence in Arencibia. But hey, the Jays won a couple World Series with Pat Borders, who was actually quite Arencibia-like in 1992 (.290 OBP, .303 wOBA, 85 wRC+, 6.3% walk rate, 1.0 fWAR), so…
Adam Lind has a .344 wOBA against right-handers over the last three years (1118 PA), and Rajai Davis has a .347 wOBA against left-handers (404 PA), so shut up.
Sure, there are major questions on every single one of the Jays’ starters– Can R.A. Dickey pick up where he left off? Is there more improvement in Josh Johnson? Can Brandon Morrow get through a full season? How will Mark Buehrle fare heading back to the American League and can he hold off regression for another year? Will J.A. Happ pitch like J.A. Happ?– but are they really any more pressing than any of the other shitbag- and/or youngster-filled rotation in the division? I think not. I like our chances. I also want to get this damn thing posted already.
For some reason the Jays’ bullpen is supposed to be some massive concern. I do suppose I get that it looks bad that the two key guys at the back end are coming off (minor) shoulder surgery and almost a year without pitching, but… there are big-armed guys like Delabar and Rogers behind them, one of the best left-handed relievers of the last few years in Darren Oliver. Plus there’s Aaron Loup, who– if last year and this spring are any indication– appears to have genuinely turned a corner. No, Brett Cecil and Jeremy Jeffress are nobody’s reliable shutdown guys, but… they aren’t the Jays’ either. And it’s not like they have a rotation that isn’t going to go deep into games, unlike last year’s disasterfuck, in which they fielded only two qualified starters, who managed to combine for 0.4 WAR between them.
I mean… holy shit.
Anyway, yeah. It’s a bullpen. It’s fine.
Image via lamelaza_7.