Jays Talk FAQ: Who should be accountable for team’s offensive approach?

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Toronto Blue Jays' Brandon Drury reacts after striking out against Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Jairo Diaz to end the top of the eighth inning of a baseball game. (David Zalubowski/AP)

In this regular Sportsnet.ca feature, Blue Jays talk host Scott MacArthur answers some frequently-asked Blue Jays questions.

Well, those back-to-back wins to kick off the homestand, marking the first consecutive victories since April 27-28 and against the New York Yankees no less, were nice while they lasted.

The final four games of the stand were a return to regular programming, including a sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks during which the Blue Jays were outscored 22-4, losing each game by six runs.

We had a good chance over the weekend to take your phone calls on Blue Jays Talk and here are some of the questions thrown my way:

Q. Who’s accountable for this team’s offensive approach or lack thereof? Is it hitting coach Guillermo Martinez?

A. It’s too early to judge Martinez and as someone said to me the other day about Martinez’s predecessor, Brook Jacoby, “was Brook a genius in 2015 who got dumb by 2018? Of course not. Maybe it’s got something to do with who he’s working with.” There are too many uncompetitive at-bats sprinkled throughout this lineup; too many guys hacking away early in the count and producing soft contact outs; too many guys who can’t seem to recognize breaking balls when they leave a pitcher’s hand; too many guys who flail at suboptimal offerings in counts where the hitter is supposed to have the advantage.

The question I often ask when I watch this happen is “what’s the plan?” But I’m not thinking about Martinez. I’m thinking about the guy in the batter’s box. A 2-0 count doesn’t mean “swing at whatever’s coming next.”

Look at where the Blue Jays land in these offensive categories, remembering there are 30 teams in Major League Baseball:

• .218 batting average – 30th
• 471 hits – 30th
• .284 on-base percentage – 30th
• .377 slugging percentage 28th (San Francisco, a terrible team and Miami, a terrible team, are worse
• 242 runs scored – 27th (San Francisco, Detroit and Miami are worse)
• 187 walks – 24th.

The above, friends, just isn’t going to get it done.

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Q. Was Vladimir Guerrero Jr. benched on Sunday because of his lack of hustle on Saturday?

A. Simple answer: No. Vladdy hadn’t sat a full game since Victoria Day (and what a day that was). He wasn’t in the starting lineup on May 29 at Tampa Bay but ended up pinch-hitting in the seventh inning and finished the game at third base. He had been the designated hitter a couple of times in the period between Victoria Day and Sunday; but, with an off day on Monday, this was a chance to get Vladdy consecutive days of rest.

Look, we can bellyache all we want about how the world has changed but Vladdy, along with every other player to varying extents, represents a significant investment and the organization is going to schedule his play in a way its sports science people and their data dictate maximum performance.

The two issues on Saturday included Vladdy going into a home run trot, turning a double into a single, on a first-inning missile off the wall in centre field. It appeared as though he lost the ball when it moved into the shaded part of the deep outfield; I’m guessing so because we in the broadcast booth did too. The ninth inning Tim Locastro ground ball, on which Vladdy took his time and double-pumped before making the throw to first, which Locastro beat out for an infield hit, was the more egregious of the two scenarios.

He learned a lesson; we move on.

Q. Who is the best pitcher on this team right now?

A. Ken Giles.

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Q. Are they really going to send Edwin Jackson back out there?

A. Yes because what’s the alternative? I’m just going to put this out there now: There is no more or less dignity in losing 102 games rather than 101 games. The Orioles, against whom Jackson is scheduled to start on Wednesday, are one of the few teams in baseball worse than the Blue Jays. Thomas Pannone could be Jackson’s replacement but, then, you’re just as likely to need Jackson to eat up innings in relief of Pannone as vice versa.

Also, it’s not as if Jackson is the only concern in the rotation. Clayton Richard is going to have more outings like he did on Sunday against Arizona (seven runs in 2.1 innings pitched).

Imagine what this is going to look like when, presumably, Marcus Stroman is traded.

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