The Toronto Blue Jays have said they have a plan for 2019 and beyond, but it seems more like they’re making it up as they go
The Toronto Blue Jays had a plan for the 2019 season. And, it seemed like a reasonable, logical plan. Simply, this season was supposed to be one where the front office got a sense of who will make up their core for when they are ready to compete in two or three years time. With guys like Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Nate Pearson and others showing promise, it wasn’t a tough sell, really. I mean, those who will argue against anything Toronto’s front office says were likely rolling their eyes, but it was a plan that makes sense.
After all, we know that the Alex Anthopoulos “all in” push in 2015 left the team bereft of upper level talent. It created a problem for an aging team and a new management team that values home grown talent. Eventually the clock ran out and AA’s Cinderella team quickly turned into a pumpkin. Any thoughts of playoffs have disappeared and we were being sold on getting to know a young, exciting team. Attendance would surely take a dip and it would be a tough slog to get through this year, but we rolled with it because (what other choice did we have?) the plan made sense.
The one constant that helped us come to grips with this plan was Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The best prospect to come along in a very, very long time was something we were dying to see. The future is exciting as long as he wears a Blue Jays uniform. But, we know one player can’t make a team, so who would surround him. Well, there were several exciting possibilities in Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Teoscar Hernandez, Billy McKinney, Danny Jansen, Ryan Borucki and others. It was easy to see a core developing.
Any additional pieces were meant to bridge a respectable gap to the ‘competing years’. Freddy Galvis, Matt Shoemaker, Clayton Richard were added to provide some semblance of a respectable team. We knew they wouldn’t compete, but at least they would be able to run out major league talent and hope to surprise a few people.
Here we are approaching the end of May and things haven’t really gone according to any plan. They say you need about 50-60 games to really know what you have in your team. The Blue Jays are 48 games in to the 2019 season and it is already clear what is happening. Right now, the Toronto Blue Jays are taking the Band-Aid approach and, in the process, their future seems more and more questionable.
Everyone knows that in the run of a baseball season many things can happen. Players can run into a streak of bad luck (just ask Randal Grichuk about his April last year) that they wouldn’t normally encounter. Players get hurt. Lots can happen to derail any plans. For the Blue Jays, they lost Borucki due to an elbow issue, they lost Shoemaker for the season after getting off to a fantastic start and they’ve yet to see a start from Richard. That kind of damage to your starting rotation is enough to derail any team. However, the good teams are those that have enough depth to at least weather the storms of a season, which the Blue Jays clearly do not have. The very depth that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins have been trying to assemble is showing itself to be far from complete. In fact, it is proving to be almost non-existent. Edwin Jackson, anyone?
The same issue can be seen in the offensive side of things. Hernandez somehow lost the pop that made management forget about his shortcomings in the outfield, Gurriel couldn’t make the simplest of throws, so his bat was removed, Jansen has yet to really hist his offensive stride and everyone else is basically showing themselves to be the not-quite-big-league bats that they are. Sure, Rowdy Tellez has been a powerful bat and Vlad looks to be turning things around, but they’re on an island all alone. Again, there isn’t the organizational depth to cover for the many issues that have plagued this team at the plate.
For this reason, the Blue Jays are forced to rely on the Band-Aid approach to getting through this season. This approach leads to at bats for guys like Socrates Brito, Alen Hanson, Jonathan Davis and Eric Sogard and lots of innings for the Edwin Jackson’s of the world. None of these guys are part of the future plans, but they are needed just for Toronto to field a team of major leaguers (term loosely used, here). It saves them from having to put a Spring Training lineup on a big league field.
So, here’s the real issue: this Band-Aid approach really highlights just how far away this team is from developing that core of young talent, saying nothing of their ability to compete. What we’re seeing unfold in front of us is an organization that is so lacking in upper level talent that they need to rely on players they shouldn’t even be looking at. Now, this is not to say that the front office has done a poor job of rebuilding the system. They have done an excellent job. Imagine where this team would be if they didn’t have guys like Trent Thornton. Do yourself a favour and don’t try to imagine that.
What is revealing itself is that, while they have a solid plan to improve by drafting and developing and by acquiring talent, the plan the front office has sold to many of us is actually going to take longer than we might have thought. Anything can happen, but right now, it looks as though this team is a long way from being good again and Band-Aids are the only answer right now.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.