Well, this could easily be a 300-page novel. But let’s break it down into steps. The Jays are off to their worst start in franchise history. Nobody really anticipated this type of start even with the offense drying up like it has; especially with the staff and bullpen being solid. But here we are. What happens if things stay the same?
The Jays do not have a prototypical lead-off hitter. The closest thing that resembles one is Devon Travis. Unfortunately, Travis hasn’t gotten on base very often in the early part of this season. There is no table setting happening. During the off-season, Dexter Fowler was targeted but ended up signing with the Cards for big money.
Jose Bautista was brought back to lessen the sting of losing EE’s bat. Jose until the past couple of years could be penciled in for 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s with an OBP of .370 every single season. This Jose is gone. The Jays would settle for 25 HR and 80 RBI’s now. That looks like it might even be a stretch.
Troy Tulowitzki is expected to be 80% of Colorado Tulo. It looks as though he’s going to be a .250 hitter with around 70 RBI’s. Which is below what is expected.
Russell Martin has been absolutely awful offensively for the past two years other than a hot month last year. His value is definitely on how he handles the pitching staff. Batting him 6th day in and day out is an awfully short-sighted move by Gibby. Every game you see Martin up in big situations and not only getting out but doing nothing positive. Striking out, popping out or hitting into DP’s.
Clutch hitting. This is a non-existent phrase for this current version of the Jays.
How do you fix this?
The First move that I would make on Monday is firing Brook Jacoby. The league has adjusted to your long ball or bust lineup. Especially when you have just lost one of the most feared bats in the majors. When you have a team that is striking out in the double digits every game you cannot win that is unless you are hitting the long ball (which they are not). Jacoby has to go to send a message to this team that this is not acceptable
If by the middle of the season the Jays aren’t sitting around the .500 mark you need to look at moving pieces to restock the cupboard that AA made bare a couple of years ago. If you have witnessed what teams have received for top tier starters over the past 3 or 4 years you will not be shocked by this. It’s reasonable to think that each of Happ, Estrada, Liriano would fetch one or two top tier prospects.
Tulo and Martin both need to be sold off. The Jays will have to eat part of their contracts. 15-17 million for a stellar defensive catcher that can’t hit a lick is far too expensive. Martin’s leadership is unquestioned, and he deserves huge credit for getting this team back to the playoffs, but his time with the Jays should be coming to an end. You can see the writing on the wall with Tulo. The MVP seasons of Tulo are far behind him. He’s still a fantastic defender, and will still get you 70-80 RBI’s. Unfortunately, he makes 20 million a year. The Jays need to move him while he still has some value. Both of these players are proven winners, and based on that alone they should fetch something.
If by the trade deadline the Jays don’t have the playoffs in sight look at moving Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista. This comes with an asterisk. If Donaldson is willing to sign long term then I am all for that. But knowing the type of player Donaldson is he will want to play for a winner during his prime. The amount that the Jays would receive back for a player like Donaldson would be substantial. Bautista is a different story. He’s only on a one-year contract and may be a lightning in a bottle type player for a playoff bound team.
If by the end of the season the Jays are still floundering – you fire Gibby. Gibbons is not the right manager for a team that is looking for an influx of youth. He’s a guiding hand for a veteran team, but he definitely isn’t known for his tactical managing or teaching ability.
It’s still extremely early. But a 1-9 start out of the gates is cannot be ignored. The Blue Birds also had an awful spring which also cannot be discounted. The one thing that this team has going for it is that their staff is excellent. Might be the best in baseball. It can keep the team in games, but without a complete philosophy change at the plate, this team will continue to frustrate their managers and their fans. Adapt or die – this team is currently doing the latter. It will be an interesting trade deadline if things continue to stay the same.
One last thought on this. I really think that this could be very similar to when the Red Sox traded the majority of their high-priced talent (Gonzalez, Crawford, Beckett) away to the Dodgers, and did a complete rebuild on the fly. The Red Sox had one down year and then were right back in the division race once their kids were ready to contribute. Donaldson and Morales are both excellent middle of the lineup bats. I expect Travis to bounce back, and be a productive hitter. Stroman and Sanchez are top end starters. Osuna is a stud closer. This isn’t a playoff team in my eyes currently, but I don’t think that the Jays fall into that multiple year slide of years past. This team could bounce back as soon as 2019 if they get the right pieces back for their assets. Once again I know it’s early, but I am not optimistic about a complete turnaround this year. My fingers will be crossed that I am wrong about all of these things. I also just witnessed Gibby call for a bunt while watching the game. Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks.