For quite a number of weeks, Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail and the Fan 590 has been going on like a broken record about the possibility of the Jays dealing Jose Bautista this winter. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say that he necessarily thinks the club should do it, but he’s certainly willing to provoke the conversation, and in implying that doing so maybe shouldn’t be quite as tough a move to swallow as most of us would think.
This morning he found an ally on the subject, chatting on his Fan 590 program with Jays radio voice Jerry Howarth, and leading the club’s most recognizable broadcaster into openly questioning what he saw from the club’s ostensible leader this season. And nearly as interesting as that, Blair did so by telling us about conversations he had with teammates who were similarly less than enamoured with the right fielder’s attitude.
Here’s the idiot-empowering exchange, which occurred in the first segment of the ten o’clock hour of Blair’s show:
Blair: I got the sense from talking to a couple of players in the last two weeks that they’d kind of had enough. I didn’t have anybody say the guy’s an ass or anything like that, but I had a couple players tell me it got to be a distraction. One player in particular said– you know what, it got to be a distraction, I’m just going to leave it at that.
Howarth: Here’s what I saw: that, where the leadership went from being positive to being negative. And then that negative attitude– especially with umpires, and his continual complaining, and giving up at-bats. And one time, with a runner at first base and one out, hitting a fly ball to right field, and he turned and walked back to the third base dugout. What is going on here?? Here’s what happened: Jose Reyes, a good kid, a four-time All-Star, he started to complain about the umpiring because of who? Jose Bautista. When Bautista wasn’t there, the last month-and-a-half, that allowed Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion to emerge as leaders. That’s what you want in 2014. And if Bautista can give you something– a piece that you don’t have right now– do it, because the other leaders are in place, and all they need is that opening to take and run with it, and I can see them doing that.
You know what else happened when Bautista wasn’t there for the last month and a half? The club lost the production of a player who, by league- and park-adjusted wRC+, hit about exactly as well as Giancarlo Stanton, Evan Longoria, Buster Posey, and other elite hitters among the top 20 or 30 in baseball this year.