In this regular Sportsnet.ca feature, Blue Jays talk host Scott MacArthur answers some frequently-asked Blue Jays questions.
Back in April, my goddaughter, Hanna, reached out to me for a recommendation. She wanted to take her boyfriend, Kyle, to a Blue Jays game; which opponent should she select? We all know the Yankees and the Red Sox are the main visiting draws, she didn’t need that advice from me, so I went outside the box. I suggested the Los Angeles Angels.
Why? Easy. Mike Trout.
She selected the June 17 game and, wow, did Trout live up to the billing. During batting practice he signed a baseball for her, a photo of which was excitedly texted to me moments after it happened. Then he went 4-for-5, lacking only a triple for the cycle, and played a game reflective of his greatness. Even the best can go 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on a given night so it was nice to have him as the night’s best player, as he is so often.
Trout is the non-switch hitting reincarnation of Mickey Mantle. He’s baseball greatness in our midst. I encourage you to see him live, once, if for no other reason than to be able to say you did.
As we delve into this week’s best questions on Blue Jays Talk, the Jays are 26-46 and haven’t played a game decided by fewer than a five-run differential since last Wednesday in Baltimore. At least they’ve won two of those five games.
Q. There is no excuse for what we’re seeing. This is Toronto; it’s not Cleveland or some other small market. This team should be spending money to fix the problems; after all, it’s owned by a multi-billion dollar telecommunications company.
A. You’ve seen a variation on this question/statement here before but because it’s the most frequent talking point on the show. It’s an appropriate emotional response if not one grounded in understanding of how this should, and I emphasize the word should, work out.
I’ll respond with a question: Name a team which built itself into a consistent winner through free agency? I couldn’t let the caller linger; dead air is bad for radio.
The problem will be if the money isn’t there when it needs to be. The Blue Jays are in the draft-and-develop phase of this rebuild, which is the phase where most, if not all, of the good is happening in the minor leagues as the big league team stumbles toward a 100-loss season.
It will be time to spend when the Jays’ good young players become arbitration eligible. It’ll be time to spend when those players need to be retained, in some cases expensively, in free agency. It’ll be time to spend when the young core requires external help, that is the acquisition of major league talent already making good money who can add to or supplement them.
This is a build. A build has different phases. I’m impatient too — this has been excruciating to watch — but let’s not put the roof on the house before we’ve dug out the basement.
Q. What do you do with Edwin Jackson?
A. Jackson’s not scheduled to appear in a game again until Saturday in Boston, which seems patently unfair. It’s getting to the point where, regardless of the lack of alternatives, it’s cruel and unusual punishment to send Jackson back out there. He seems like a good man and has certainly had a nice career, but it’s tough to watch someone wither away on the mound.
What are the alternatives? I’d be hesitant to call up anyone from double-A just yet, especially to make a start at Fenway Park. Jacob Waguespack is back from shoulder tightness, but is building back up at triple-A Buffalo, where he was pitching to an ERA north of 5.00 anyway. Sean Reid-Foley? Meh.
I said this last week when I co-hosted the At The Letters podcast with Ben Nicholson-Smith: This season isn’t about wins and losses and if someone’s got to “wear it,” better it be someone like Jackson, who’s a veteran and who’s near the end, than a young pitcher you hope figures in to the plans.
The problem is if Jackson can’t get the Jays more than a handful of outs, he becomes a bullpen killer and the club has too many of those already.
Q. How impressed have you been with Cavan Biggio?
A. He’s got a hitter’s eye for which the majority of his veteran teammates could only wish. We’re starting to see some power; most importantly, we’re seeing consistently good at-bats. Biggio has already walked 14 times (in 74 plate appearances) and seven of his 14 hits have been for extra bases.
I’d bat him leadoff every day.