Blue Jays Good News/Bad News Monday

Yesterday was something of a microcosm of the recent past for the Blue Jays. Last night’s game gave fans plenty to cheer about as they routed Texas 19 – 4, a season high for runs and hits (21). Oft-forgotten Brandon Drury hit a grand slam, everyone in the lineup had at least one hit and as usual (of late) the kids were alright…to say the least. Rookie catcher Danny Jansen hit a homer and had three hits, Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. each had two hits, with Vlad scoring three runs and Dante’s little boy, Bo Bichette, once again led the way. Hitting lead off he notched two singles, two doubles and scored three. For those keeping count, Bichette, in his third week in the “bigs” has 11 doubles already and is clipping along with a .394 average.

It was fun for fans, a middling crowd of about 16 000 at Rogers Centre plus the TV viewers, and was although extreme, indicative of recent weeks for Toronto. After an atrocious start at the plate, the Jays have begun hitting pretty well and much of that has been ignited by the youngsters – rookies Bichette, Guerrero, Biggio and Jansen as well as sophomore Lourdes Gurriel. The result is a team that on some nights looks like world beaters, other nights can be rather ordinary. Since the end of June, the Blue Jays have been an even 19 -19, largely because they’ve had 6 games of double-digit runs in that stretch and scored 206 runs – about 5.5 per game. While the team still only tops Detroit in the AL in terms of batting average (.238) and on base pct. (305), their recent run and power hitting has them 5th in the league in homers (186) and 10th, but climbing in the important category, runs scored (561.)

Yes, the blowout game was fun and good news, particularly because very few fans or players in Toronto have forgotten Roughned Odor’s cheap shot sucker punch of Jose Bautista three years back. But as usual, it would seem, the joy was tempered by another dark cloud floated over the stadium by GM Ross Atkins. Only hours before the team took the field they announced they’d given shortstop Freddy Galvis to Cincinnati on a waiver claim. The twitterverse was once again aghast and annoyed. One could almost imagine Atkins in Batman villain gear chortling “So they didn’t like getting back one second-string outfielder for two pitchers, eh? Wait til they get a load of this…”

The supposed reasoning that the team took the uncommon stance of announcing on Twitter was that they had a shortstop now in Bo Bichette and he’s playing well, so let him play. Who needs two? So they threw Galvis out on waivers and let Cinci come on by and drive him off for absolutely nothing in return. Nada.

This seems dubious wisdom to say the very least. Galvis is immensely popular in Toronto and in fact just won the team’s Heart and Hustle Award for the player “who best personifies the values” of baseball and sports, both on and off the field. It’s Galvis’ second one of those, having won Philadelphia’s two years ago as well. Galvis leads the Jays in games played this season (115 out of their 122) which is no surprise since he played every game last year and the season before and ran a league-leading 349 straight games until Charlie Montoyo sat him one day in April. Freddy had earned his time on field too; he also led the team in hits and RBI at the time (Randal Grichuk overtook him in that category in last night’s game.) All in all he was hitting .267 with 18 HR, 54 RBI and a WAR of 1.6 so far. He was also a reliable glove in the infield, leading the team with a part in 64 double plays and a high .986 fielding percentage at short.

Now, there’s no denying young Bo has been impressive since being called up from the minors. Nor that he is one of the game’s best prospects. His 11-game hitting streak upon being called up is the longest to begin a career in Jays history. He’s fast, exciting and a friend of his other young counterparts in the infield. If he keeps it up, he will be the “Bo” people think of when someone says “Bo knows baseball.”

All that doesn’t make giving away a star infielder for nothing at all sensible. Galvis is a very durable veteran – at least veteran compared to the bulk of his teammates – with a great work ethic as well as the steady hand in the field that to this point, Bo is a bit lacking in. Just as with Vladimir Guerrero, Bo is already a hitting star but at times looks a little bit overmatched in the field. That’s not meant as a knock; few 20 or 21 year-olds look like latter day Brooks Robinsons or Roberto Alomars defensively and fans should be overwhelmingly pleased with their composure and effectiveness at the plate. But it also doesn’t mean that Bichette might not learn a bit from an above-average defensive SS who is also a popular guy in the clubhouse. Nor that Galvis couldn’t continue to get some regular ABs even with Bichette playing. Consider that manager Montoyo tries to insist young players have at least one game off per week to not overwork them, that the team lacks a full-time DH and that Galvis can also play 2B or 3B.

Galvis wasn’t eligible for free agency until after next season and the team had an option for a reasonable $5.5 M for 2020. Toronto could have kept Freddy at least until the end of this season, played him probably 4 games a week without sitting Bo Bichette more than the manager already does and had important backup protection in case of injury. That would have been smart. Or they could have decided three weeks ago he was expendable and put him on the trading block. While pitchers were the preferred pick-up this past July 31, if Tampa would pledge two “players to be named later” for the Jays journeyman IF Eric Sogard and LA would give up an A-ball pitcher and a veteran reliever currently injured, in Tony Cingrani, for St. Louis journeyman Jedd Gyorko who was hitting just .196 trying to recover from a back injury, one has to imagine that some team would have made some reasonable offer for a good-hitting, hard-working veteran like Galvis.

Instead Atkins chose to do neither and Toronto gets nothing but fond memories and the insecurity of having no real viable backup for a rookie shortstop with only 15 games under his belt.

In short, the Blue Jays have been fairly good of late. But one has to suspect that’s despite the front office not because of it.

16 comments

  1. badfinger20

    Does the GM not want any payroll at all? I didn’t understand that move… he was a solid player and yes a shortstop that can hit…the Jays could have gotten something for him in the offseason or next year.
    Jay’s fans have to be furious… I googled it and some reporters say…well it was nowhere to play…well you find a place for a month and a half. Just watching the GM in the last few months…I do scratch my head.

    • Dave

      Yep, another totally senseless move. And for Galvis, not like he’s getting to go to a team with a better chance either. It’s all entirely regrettable because there are many good things with the Jays but the GM and his roster move often overshadow them.

      • Dave

        Few do. Even Mark Shapiro, club pres who’ s faded into background in last 2 years, told reporters adding 2 starting pitchers next year would be a priority even with some young promising ones…which makes Stroman trade even less logical.

      • Dave

        Your guys get to see ’em tonight! Wish it was on tv I could see here…Kershaw impresses me when I see him & I’d love to see some Bellinger at bats. Do you get to view many of their games in TN?

      • badfinger20

        Yes I do… I have extra innings so I get the games…I watched Toronto the other night to see the young guys. They both have a lot of homegrown guys now.

      • Dave

        That is true… it’s the way to go these days (the homegrown talent.) Well at least Bo Bichette had a good night for my Jays, LOL… Toronto right now seems firmly entrenched in the middle of the pack. Against lousy teams (e.g. Baltimore and KC) they dominate. Against powerhouses like your guys, they look like they’re still in the minor leagues.

      • badfinger20

        They do that to teams but they can be beat 3-1 tonight. It was funny…right before he pitched to Bichette the announcers said…Kershaw should try to get this lineup to chase…boom! lol
        It helped that the Dodgers got some of their injured guys back last night.

      • Dave

        I don’t seeanyone catching your dodgers until the World Series. Man- how good is that Ryu guy and we’re only just starting to see him mentioned in headlines now, with an ERA of what? 1.46 this far in to season? AL though, will be a race between NYY and Houston. I like Astros better on paper but no one’s impressed me more than Yankees this year– playing like expected but with a largely AAA lineup. Stanton in 9 games so far…Judge out of action much of year. Severino no pitches so far this year. And they’re still winning…with Gio Urshela headlining??

      • badfinger20

        Ryu is somehow like Maddux this year. His control is great…he pitches around 90 tops. Keep an eye on the Dodgers rookie Catcher… Will Smith…yea same name lol… in only 27 games total…30 RBI’s…When the Dodgers rookies come up…they are ready to play…I will give credit to who ever is in charge of the minor league. Being talented is important but being ready is another also…
        Bichette was ready out of the gate for the Jays.

        Personally I want a LA-NY World Series. I may regret it but I would love to see it. It will be like old times to me. The Yankees got the same criticism the Dodgers got at the trade deadline… they both sit still…but both have a great minor league system. I do agree they have done great with the injuries they have had this year.

      • Dave

        Yes, I’ve started to hear all about Smith in the last couple of weeks. Read that suddenly no one’s complaining the Dodgers didn’t go all out for Realmuto last winter. With the success LA and NY are having this year (and the success of youngsters in Toronto and SD even if the teams aren’t in high gear) I think we’ll see more of a shift in strategy this winter… a lot more mid-range star players going unsigned as free agents and fewer trades involving AAA talent for experienced players. Kind of good, but if it keeps up you know there’s going to be a major labor dispute as the kids want more of the pie and the veterans yell “collusion!”

      • badfinger20

        The bad thing I see is 30 year olds not being resigned by their own teams because of up and coming players.
        Take for instance…Corey Seager of the Dodgers…everyone thought he would be a franchise player…he has been hurt quite a bit so now I’m wondering if they will even resign him and just let him hit free agency when it comes.

        I do think the younger players should be paid more…it would balance it out a little. I can see their gripe…they have to wait 6 years and then the market is thin…don’t get me wrong…they make plenty but I’m talking baseball money.

        On the other hand…it’s a business…GMs are much more smarter than they were…they are not going to pay for past performances except the huge stars like Harper because they bring in people.

        Collusion will/has been talked about already…I don’t believe it for a second…it’s just smart GM’s.

      • Dave

        I agree completely. Never flet there was any collusion; for one thing the owners are too selfish and determined to win to agree to not have good players on their roster – some would always “Agree” then go behind the other owners backs and clean up cheap. But that doesn’t stop players from yelling about it.
        Seager’s got good numbers still, but I see what you mean. there’ll be a lot of players like that falling through the cracks I predict. Toronto’s Justin Smoak could be another – gold glove calibre defense, good power but this year he’s hitting only about .220 – though he’s 4th in league in walks so his on base is good. Great veteran in clubhouse the young guys like, but who knows …. can’t see him getting a very big contract as a free agent, so that might encourage him to stay and sign a small deal with Toronto again, but Jays may be penny-pinching and decide they can get same hitting at least for much less with a random rookie, so why bother?
        Bottom line is if the productivity of young players keeps up for a few more years, we’ll have to see more money for the rookies and sophomores, and probably quicker roots to arbitration, but owners won’t like that one bit…

      • badfinger20

        I don’t see it ending well for players if this keeps up. I don’t understand why the Jays are penny pinching… they are not in Tampa Bay. I understand they are rebuilding and no one wants to throw money away but Smoak has been there a while…it would not hurt them to sign him unless he is blocking someone.
        Corey is great but you know how teams lock up young players? No offer has been made to him…This surprises people but the Dodgers don’t offer huge contracts…they have been under the Tax line last year and this year and next year will be around 50 million underneath…but with the farm system they don’t have to buy expensive players. Kershaw got a big one…but that is Kershaw. 90 million for 3 years.

        We will see what happens but we will see a dispute.

      • badfinger20

        dang…by the way…I read your review of Bud’s book and was called and didn’t get to comment…I will get there.

  2. Pingback: How Is It Toronto Boast About Being World Class… Except When It Comes To Baseball Markets? | One Flew Over the Jays nest

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