The Toronto Blue Jays have painted themselves into a dark corner at left field and first base and could end up paying for it, says Jonah Keri.
The MLB analyst joined The Jeff Blair Show on Thursday and offered his pre-season predictions, forecasting the Blue Jays to miss the playoffs and finish around the 85-win mark.
“In baseball you have to assume bad scenarios as well as good ones [will occur],” Keri said on Sportsnet 590 The FAN. “And you’ve already created, for no good reason, two horrible scenarios at two of your power positions, which really makes no sense.”
The Blue Jays will likely open the season with some combination of Ezequiel Carrera, Steve Pearce and Melvin Upton Jr. in left field. That mix is up in the air, though, as Pearce is still continuing to build arm strength following right elbow surgery and Upton Jr. is on the roster bubble and could be left off the club in favour of Ryan Goins.
Justin Smoak figures to see plenty of time at first base, while Pearce could occupy the position as well.
Pearce, who the Blue Jays signed in the off-season to a two-year, $12.5-million deal, has spent most of his 10-year career as a platoon player. In 2014 he played in a career-high 102 games for the Baltimore Orioles, and his new club appears determined to find him plenty of playing time.
“The rumblings that have been made about Steve Pearce playing a bunch, let’s hope they come to fruition because I don’t like Justin Smoak, I don’t like their left-field situation,” said Keri, adding that those situations are “terrible.”
“Pearce needs to play, as much as possible in one or both positions, and then they need to figure out the other position.”
These perceived weaknesses are not enough to doom the Blue Jays, Keri says, but it does complicate things.
“You can have teams win the World Series with weaknesses,” he said. “It is doable, but it relies on everything else being perfect. That means [Jose] Bautista has to be back to being Bautista. It means the starting pitching, which is really good by the way, has to execute exactly like last year and nobody gets hurt. It means you are relying on a bunch of other things to go exactly right.”
Listen to the full interview below.