Haven’t been hearing as many voices lately saying Jose Bautista’s 2010 was a fluke! Well, given his AL leading batting average, on base percentage and home run tally, all we can ask is….how good would this guy be if he actually had people around him hitting? Thus far it’s been easy to pitch around Jose, hence his league-leaguing 24 walks. Imagine if Adam Lind (of 2 HR and 5 RBI tonight) gets hot behind him in the lineup. All of a sudden another 50 homer, 120 run, 120 RBI season, coupled with a .300+ average seems well within reach for Bautista.
OK, Texas lose two at home to the Jays. Besides that basic fact and Toronto scoring some runs, a thing that I liked: Jesse Litsch’s fielding. Pitchers seldom get evaluated on their defence but Jesse made a couple of very nice plays tonight to save a base runner (and potentially a run) , snagging a come-backer off Chris Davis in the 4th and handling a hot drive from Beltre–aka the Most Over-rated Player in the Game– in the 6th. A pitcher that can field is a good resource… and a reason Litsch might just merit staying up there in the majors despite good showings from the likes of Brad Mills in AAA.
Speaking of pitchers and AAA, as much as we showed up the reigning AL champs last night and tonight, one thing that really showed up the Jays ws the bullpen effort of (former Jay) Dave Bush last night and Brett Tomko tonight. Collectively 8 innings of rocksolid ball from those guys after lousy starts from their starters. It shows up what toronto needs badly– a “long man” out of the bullpen, a starting pitcher sitting down there in the ‘pen who can toss 3,4, even 5 innings at a time when his team is down. Rzepcinski is not a bad imitation of that, but not quite there and the rest of the Jays bullpen is built around guys who are good for two or three batters at a time, maybe 12 pitches tops… and that’s why the team has already had as many as 9 arms in the ‘pen at a time. The end result of it is not only bad pitching, but not enough flexibility off the bench. Stuff the bullpen with nine guys and you have only a couple of players to come in defensively or to pinch hit late in the game. A serious drawback. C’mon Alex— either bring up Brad Mills as a long man out of the pen or trade for some “washed up” starter ala Freddy Garcia or Bart-man Colon to anchor the bullpen for nights Litsch, Reyes or (Lawd help us!) Brett Cecil (he of the 10 earned runs tonight in the minors in, oh, let’s say about 17 pitches thrown) can’t do it beyond 3 innings.
There you have it Alex A— in last week I recommended running John McDonald out there every day. Farrell has been lately, and the Jays just took two off the defending AL champions. Now I recommend getting rid of a couple of easily-tired relief arms and replacing them with one solid starting pitcher in the ‘pen to give you innings… and the flexibility to bring up an Eric Thames or Brett Lawrie to supplement this team’s offence.
And keep John A. out there somewhere in the infield every night.
Helpful hints from a fan who is tired of seeing the team lose… and believes they could compete this year.