Start planning the parade route!!
The Blue Jays are 3 games above .500 for the first time since June 2012 and they are tied for the division lead in the AL East. The Blue Jays will be looking to sweep the Red Sox at Fenway when they send the ageless lefty Mark Buehrle to the mound on Thursday afternoon. The Blue Jays potent offense has been led by the scorching hot bat of Edwin(g) Encarnacion who has hit 7 home runs in his last 6 games. He is also the first player to have 4 multi-homer games in a month since Troy Tulowitzki had 4 in September 2010. E5 has also feasted on the Red Sox thus far, knocking 4 home runs out of Fenway in 2 games.
What can go wrong from here?
Well for starters (no pun intended) the Jays are unsure of who will be starting their contest against the MLB best and AL West leading Oakland A’s. The Blue Jays have been using a 4 man rotation since they moved Dustin McGowan to the bullpen and will now need to replace his spot in the rotation. The two favourites in line for the start on Saturday are the beer league special (Todd Redmond) and 2014 scrap heap reclamation project (Liam Hendricks). Both options are poor ones at best and barely strike fear in a minor league lineup let alone the (current) best team in the MLB. In the world of baseball “sexiness,” the two of them exude the same amount of “sexiness” as Amy Madigan in Field of Dreams.
It’s nothing personal against Redmond and Hendricks, it’s just that they are more destined for AAAA status and the occasional spot start and the Blue Jays will most likely try to squeeze multiple starts from these grease fires in waiting. If it was just ONE start it wouldn’t be an issue. But you know the Blue Jays management would rather go to war with this discount rack of pitching than promote one of their young starters, or better yet, bring in another starting pitcher!
Look at Marcus Stroman for instance. Despite being hit often in AAA he was still proving to be an effective starter when he was called up by the Blue Jays. However the Jays pitched him exclusively out of the bullpen and he got lit up before he was hustled back down to AAA where he is back starting games for the Bisons. Why not give him the start? Could he possibly do any worse than Redmond or Hendricks?
What about Sean Nolin? Sure he got torched by the Orioles through 1.1 innings in his MLB debut last year but which (current) Jays pitcher hasn’t been torched at least once in the past year? Nolin has looked pretty decent in 40 innings with the Bisons this year (2 – 2 • 2.70 ERA • 1.27 WHIP) and should deserve a start at some point.
So why not now?
I know everyone would LOVE to see Tricky Ricky Romero make the spot start and resurrect his career. But poor Ricky is still struggling to find both himself and the strike zone, having posted 32 BB • 22 K and a 2.12 WHIP in just 29.2 innings.
Another interesting option would be for the Blue Jays to acquire another SP via the trade market and I am not talking about the recently acquired Raul Valdes. The big “fish” on the market is the Chicago Cubs ace right hander Jeff Samardzjia and the rumours are that multiple teams are looking in on him, including the Blue Jays. Samardzj is currently the NL Era leader with a 1.46 ERA in 68 innings (10 starts) and has struck out 54 batters. Amazingly Samardzjia’s record stands at 0-4! Another argument for getting rid of the W stat. Why is Samardzjia winless you ask? Well he plays for the Cubs who can neither score runs or prevent them, as evident last night when the bullpen blew a 2 run lead against the Yankees. Who was in line for the win? Why Samardzjia of course.
The Blue Jays were rumoured to have been “in” on Samardzj during the past offseason. The asking price however was far too steep, with the Cubs wanting BOTH Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. The mindset around baseball is that the Cubs asking price may have softened a bit and come down since the offseason. If it were possible to nab the 6’5 righty from the Cubs for a package built around Stroman and some other fringe prospects, who wouldn’t do it? If it appears that the Blue Jays are unsure of keeping Stroman as a starter long term then why not package him off for a legit starter who can help the team now?
Going into the 2013 season the Blue Jays went “all in” bolstering their lineup in the anticipation of a “weak” AL East and a chance to make the playoffs. We all know how that ended.
This season (so far) the AL East is a complete crap shoot. Fangraphs.com released their revised final standings for the 2014 season yesterday and they have the Blue Jays finishing atop the East with an 85-77 record; an astonishing 7 games up on the last place Rays. The Rays pitching staff and lineup have been ravaged by injuries. The O’s have been up and down all year. The Yankees are currently looking into the ghost of Lou Gehrig to round out their aging lineup. The Red Sox have been anything but Boston Strong.
So why not take a run at it this year?
AA has never been one to shy away from pulling the trigger on the big move before, so why not do it again? His legacy is going to be tied to what happens in his “three year window” anyway, so why not make the trade? It is no secret that the Jays need help in the rotation. McGowan didn’t cut it. Morrow is done for the near future and maybe longer and JA Happ is the epitome of the term “trick or treat.” Buehrle and Hutchison have been marvels in the early goings of the 2014 season and RA Dickey hasn’t been a complete nightmare (although his WestJet commercials sure are), so why not get another arm to make this rotation stronger?
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of “prospect porn” and am enamoured with the idea of what a player could potentially become. However if the player doesn’t seem to fit into the long term plans, than why not move him? I love Stro, I love his confidence and tenacity and I LOVE his slider. However, I hate the idea of drafting a guy in the 1st round to keep him in the bullpen. Maybe he becomes Tom Gordon 2.0 as a closer if we move him to the pen, maybe not. Me though, I would rather let the guy go out there and try and become the next Roy Oswalt or Sonny Gray.
If I am AA, I start with an offer of Stroman and Sean Nolin for Samardzjia. Clearly both pitchers aren’t factoring into the Toronto rotation anytime soon, so why not move them for a pitcher who can help us win now?