In this regular Sportsnet.ca feature, Blue Jays talk host Scott MacArthur answers some frequently-asked Blue Jays questions.
Do you enjoy math? I don’t, but here’s some anyway: Through 59 games the Blue Jays are 21-38, good for a .356 winning percentage, which puts them on pace for a 162-game record of 58-104. Consider, also, that 55 of the team’s remaining 103 games are against the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers and there’s no telling what this will look like when the season ends on Sept. 29.
One thing is for sure: Those 16 games remaining with the Baltimore Orioles will be a welcome reprieve, although, at this point, assuming the Jays will emerge with a winning record against the O’s (they’re already 1-2 versus Baltimore) could make a you-know-what out of you and me.
I’d like to send a shout out to my trusted producer and friend, Josh Goldberg, for his great work hosting Blue Jays Talk in my absence over the weekend.
Now, on with this week’s questions.
Q. What did you make of Marcus Stroman’s comments on the team’s losing ways, saying “this is not a fun atmosphere”?
A. The simplest answer is, I like it. Who in their right mind would be satisfied with the last five weeks of baseball, rebuild or no rebuild? Whether Stroman is long for this organization will become clearer soon – I’ve advocated for his retention although I don’t believe he’ll end up getting a long-term extension – and the comment was made by a guy who’s smart enough to read the tea leaves.
You can never trade a guy for the sake of trading a guy but the organization is surely aware it will be unable to keep Stroman quiet, whether it’s in his post-start media scrums or, should he choose, on social media, and I think we can safely say this season gets uglier rather than prettier as it grinds on. There will be more frustration.
Stroman is a competitive guy; whether you always like his method isn’t relevant. He’s been here for winning seasons and he thrived in the biggest games. It’s not hard to understand why this experience would be bothersome to him especially if he doesn’t believe he’s considered part of the solution.
Q. Do you worry all of this losing will have negative, long-term effects on young players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio?
A. I’ve been asked this question off-air, too, and there’s one player who immediately comes to mind: Jose Altuve. Altuve debuted on July 20, 2011, for a Houston Astros team that was in the middle of what would be a 106-loss season. He was an all-star in 2012 when the Astros lost 107 games. Altuve also endured a 111-loss year in 2013 and 92 defeats in 2014 before Houston finally turned it around and won a wild-card spot in 2015. Did all of the misery, all of the losing, stunt Altuve’s development? Clearly not and he got through the slog because he’s a good player. If Vladdy and Biggio are the players they’re projected to be, especially Vladdy, they’ll be key contributors to a good Blue Jays team someday.
There will be bumps in the road but, generally speaking, it’s important the kids continue to show consistent development as this year moves ahead and in the seasons to come.
Q. Who on this current Blue Jays roster not named Guerrero or Biggio will be contributing players when the team is good again?
A. Straight up, I don’t know. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who since his recall has been red hot and tuned up his OPS+ to 123 (the metric is weighted so that a league-average hitter always has an OPS+ of 100), hopefully factors in.
I’d like to the think the Blue Jays have their catcher in Danny Jansen although it’s been a huge struggle for him offensively. I understand he’s been focusing on working with the pitching staff and improving his game defensively and Jansen deserves credit for good work in both areas. However, I’m not as convinced divided focus explains why there’s been so little hard contact coming off his bat.
Rowdy Tellez has had a nice sense of timing with many of the home runs he’s hit coming in big moments. Jonathan Davis has good speed. What does that mean for the bigger picture, though?
Brandon Drury hasn’t done much hitting since he arrived in Toronto.
Pitching? Trent Thornton profiles as a nice back-of-the-rotation guy.
And that’s about all I’ve got for that question. This will get worse before it gets better, I’m afraid.