The road trip from hell has come to its merciful conclusion, and the Blue Jays will return home with a much different-looking crew than the one with which they left Toronto a week and a half ago.
When the Jays hit the road for a 10-game trip through Seattle, Oakland and Tampa Bay on which they would ultimately go 2-8, their active roster included people like Travis Snider, Brett Lawrie, Adam Lind, Joel Carreno, Drew Carpenter, Evan Crawford and Brett Cecil. They return home with none of them. Almost 30 per cent of the entire squad has been turned over the course of this road trip — two to the disabled list, four to Las Vegas and one to Pittsburgh.
The new faces who will be in uniform when the Blue Jays open their homestand with the first of three against the Yankees are trade deadline acquisitions Steve Delabar and Brad Lincoln, along with call-ups Chad Jenkins, David Cooper, Adeiny Hechavarria, Moises Sierra and whoever comes up to replace Lawrie before Friday night’s game.
The new-look Blue Jays limp home having scored just 24 runs on the trip — an average of 2.4 per game — and 13 of those came in a stretch of three straight games in Oakland that included their two wins on the trip.
You can’t really blame them, at the moment they’re sort of a composite of the Blue Jays that led all of Major League Baseball in scoring as recently as 11 days ago and the Las Vegas 51s, with three to five players in the lineup every day who really aren’t yet ready to hit in the major leagues.
The sad truth is, whether you want to hear it or not, that the Blue Jays are simply too injured to compete right now. They have 13 players on the disabled list, and among them are their leadoff, third, fifth and sixth hitters, their closer, their de facto ace, another pitcher who was beginning to emerge as an excellent starter and two reliable relievers. Not exactly people whose presence doesn’t make a difference.
The offence was good enough to overcome a lot of the pitching deficiencies, but now that most of the big bats have been sidelined, there are just too many holes in a lineup that has had to feature Yunel Escobar hitting clean-up for the last four games.
The silver lining in this enormous mess, of course, is the opportunity to see players like Anthony Gose, Hechevarria and Sierra get some exposure in the major leagues, even though it appears as though the first two are in way over their heads at the plate. That shouldn’t come as a huge shocker, though, as we were well aware that for both Gose and Hechavarria, everything was major-league ready except for their bats.
There seems to be a great deal of concern among a portion of the Blue Jays’ fan base that either is unable to see a positive in any situation or needs to have something about which to be upset that the Jays might potentially “ruin” Gose and Hechavarria by allowing them to continue to struggle at the major-league level. My answer to that is a word I so enjoy using and don’t get to nearly enough: Poppycock.
Please note the following: I AM NOT COMPARING EITHER ANTHONY GOSE OR ADEINY HECHAVARRIA TO MIKE TROUT. With that being said, Trout was called up last season by the Angels — too early — and in a 40-game stint hit just .220 and struck out in nearly a quarter of his at-bats. Clearly he was overmatched and called up too soon, and clearly it either had no effect on him (he is, after all, the frontrunner for the A.L. MVP right now), or it gave him a taste of big-league life and showed him just how much he needed to work over the off-season and back in triple-A at the beginning of this season.
There’s no reason the same can’t be true of Gose and Hechavarria. If the Blue Jays weren’t in a state of emergency, neither of them would be in the major leagues right now, but there’s nothing wrong with using this time to get them some reps and demystify the big leagues. I firmly believe that, no matter how much they struggle, this will ultimately be good for both of them.
It’s certainly going to be tough sledding the rest of the way for the Blue Jays — Lawrie isn’t eligible to return until August 19th, J.P. Arencibia won’t be back until September and Jose Bautista isn’t going to try to swing a bat again until after the weekend. At least Brandon Morrow’s rehab is coming along nicely. If he stays on track, the man who was emerging as the Blue Jays’ ace will be back on the mound at Rogers Centre to face the Rangers on August 18th.