Trying something new with the Assorted Weekend Thoughts this week: it’ll come at you as a series of smaller posts on a mostly-single topic (i.e. what normally would have gone under one sub-heading), rather than one big slog through it all that I don’t publish until 4:45 PM. Let’s see how this works, shall we?
The Jays found themselves with something of a roster crunch last night, when it was learned that Brett Lawrie had finished his rehab assignment and was ready to return to the club. This, of course, was terrific news both offensively and defensively for the Jays, but it meant that someone currently on the 25-man roster had to go.
That someone, it turns out, was Steve Tolleson, who the club announced this morning had finally been placed on the paternity list, what seems like several months after we first learned his wife was about to give birth.
What won’t take several months, however, is Tolleson’s return. According to the club’s press release on the matter he’ll be away from the club for a minimum of one day and a maximum of three. What the hell happens after that? Well… it’s not entirely clear just yet, and the answer isn’t a particularly easy one — barring someone getting injured in the next couple of days, be it of the real or imagined variety.
Currently the club has seven relievers, and that likely isn’t to change — or, knowing the Jays, if it is, they’re more likely to go to eight — so we’re looking at a position player going down.
Lawrie doesn’t need a platoon partner — he’s actually been better against same-sided pitching both this year and over the course of his career — and because of his range and athleticism is obviously not going to sit for anyone, defensively. Juan Francisco surely gets to stay, at least until Adam Lind returns, as the club’s first baseman or DH against right-handed pitching. Danny Valencia, with his career 139 wRC+ against left-handers will have a spot in the lineup against them, perhaps at DH or first base, with Steve Tolleson (a 132 wRC+ in the split) likely playing second most of the time.
There is some flexibility in how those guys are used, but those four — Lawrie, Francisco, Valencia, Tolleson — would seem to be safe now. That means one of Ryan Goins, Munenori Kawasaki, Nolan Reimold, or Anthony Gose will need to go when Tolleson is back.
Against lefties, Reimold ought to get into the action as DH, with Valencia at first and Tolleson at second. Against right-handed pitching the club would likely be best with Francisco and Jose Bautista at either first or DH, Gose in right, and either Kawasaki or Goins at second base.
Reimold’s platoon splits are pretty even, so he could be in the lineup against right-handers instead of Gose, and Gose does have options, so he could be sent down. But so does Ryan Goins, and Kawasaki can definitely hold down his spot — though not with the same level of defence — until rosters expand in September.
If it’s even his spot, that is.
John Lott tweets a picture of the lineup card for tonight, and Brett Lawrie is indeed in at third base against O’s righty Bud Norris. Colby Rasmus is in the doghouse and in at DH, with Gose in centre, and Kawasaki playing second base. Perhaps an indication of the move to come? Despite chatter about Goins’ improvements since his return from Buffalo, after just two hits in Houston he’s down to a wRC+ of 70, with a .277/.277/.362 slash line over his 13 games back in the bigs.
The defence sure still looks good, but putting up that line and still having options left? I think John Gibbons is tipping the club’s hand with the lineup he’s put out there tonight. I think it’s the right move, too. (Plus, though he offers no power, and his wRC+ and wOBA suffer for it, Kawasaki has a .330 on-base against right-handers this year. I can live with that?)