Thoughts from the booth: Biggio, Gurriel get big league opportunity

Cavan Biggio sits down with Arash Madani to talk about the experience of being called up to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Every Friday, Blue Jays Talk host Scott MacArthur will weigh in with his observations on the Blue Jays from the past week.

Mark it down: May 24, 2019, the day Cavan Biggio was called up to the big leagues for the first time and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was recalled after more than a month at triple-A playing a variety of different positions.

I can’t promise that both are here to stay. It will come down to opportunity, which both will get, and what both do with said opportunity.

I will say this: It would be great if Biggio and Gurriel took advantage of what’s laid before them. This past week, thankfully, will soon be but a memory. The Vlad Guerrero Jr. stuff (as a refresher, he didn’t play on holiday Monday and he should have) and the reminder of just how far away this franchise is from the quality of the Red Sox, one of two and maybe three (don’t discount Tampa Bay), division behemoths. The fan base could use a dose of optimism and so could the front office, which is bent on trading veteran assets and to this point appears to have Guerrero Jr. as a prized prospect among a bunch of question marks.

Guerrero and a bunch of question marks don’t portend relevance, let alone contention, in 2021, the year which general manager Ross Atkins has indicated he expects to turn the corner. After all, Carlos Delgado, Vernon Wells and Roy Halladay weren’t enough in the early 2000s.

The Blue Jays need offensive help in the outfield. Biggio and Gurriel Jr. are natural infielders but both are expected to be super-utility players. In limited opportunity this spring Biggio acquitted himself well in left field.

Richard Urena, who’s getting used to the QEW, and Billy McKinney are the casualties of the latest roster moves. In a meritorious world Urena, at least in his previous two stints with the Blue Jays this season, deserved more playing time. McKinney, on the other hand, is ticketed for Buffalo in a somewhat similar way to Teoscar Hernandez. The organization is giving chances to others in place of players who’ve had an opportunity (depending on the player, likely not the last opportunity) but failed to take advantage.

It’s time to give the next guys a chance to be more than "just guys." They believe Biggio and Gurriel Jr. can hit at the big league level. Let’s hope that’s the case.

I’m looking forward to watching 23-year-old right-hander Chris Paddack start for the Padres on Sunday. He’s working a 1.93 ERA over 51.1 innings pitched so far this season while striking out more than a hitter per inning (56 strikeouts) and walking only 11. His 0.760 walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP) is among the best in baseball and his 4.9 hits allowed per nine innings is the best among qualified pitchers in the National League.

Paddack is a huge part of the Padres’ future. He was acquired from Miami, for whom he was an eighth round draft pick in 2015, for reliever Fernando Rodney on June 30, 2016. Less than three months later Marlins ace Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident off the South Florida coast. Trade and then tragedy; one wonders where the Marlins would be today if Fernandez and Paddack were at the top of their rotation. Would any, maybe all, of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto still be Marlins? How good would that team have been?

Last but not least, congratulations to Josh Naylor, who will make his major league debut this weekend. The Padres are calling him up less than a month before his 22nd birthday. Oh, by the way, San Diego didn’t draft the Mississauga native. You won’t believe it, but, the Padres acquired Naylor from – you guessed it – Miami in a trade centred on sending now-Orioles starter Andrew Cashner to the Marlins.

As the Padres slowly emerge from the rubble of a roster overhaul, they’ll have the Marlins to thank, in part, should Executive Vice-President and general manager A.J. Preller’s work result in playoff appearances and a world championship.

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