Any real fan of the Toronto Blue Jays knows that this year is going to be a long one. The first year of a rebuild always is.
As spring training comes closer to the end and the roster cuts keep piling up, it becomes clearer that the Jays are looking thin.
There is a lot of young talent, but you can’t expect them to perform right away, so as fun as it might to be watch this young team come into its own, for now the Orioles might as well be the Yankees, and the Yankees might as well be the AL All-Star team. The World Series is a long way away.
As the team begins to pace itself for Opening Day, the rotation begins to form. Shaun Marcum gets the call for No. 1, and Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Marc Rzepczynski, and Brian Tallet will fill it out. They're all unproven and could do well but could also lead the league in home runs allowed. They’re young, and they’ll need help.
The starting lineup is taking shape. I don’t like Jose Bautista, but who else can lead off and play good enough defense? In a perfect world Adam Lind could, and the DH could be filled by Randy Ruiz so we can see what he can do with 500 at-bats. That isn’t the case, of course. The world isn’t perfect.
Still, I think Ruiz needs his shot. So I ask this question:
Why Lyle Overbay?
Overbay is the best choice at first if you want to win 70 games. Let Ruiz swing; he’s not going to be that much of a defensive liability at first, and he has a shot at 30 home runs and a .300 average.
With Overbay you are going to get .270 with 14 home runs and 68 RBI and a heap of doubles with no one on base. Couple that with average defense, and that puts him right where he has been for a while—among the worst starting first basemen in the league. This is nothing to get excited about.
Plus Overbay is just holding the spot for Brett Wallace. He is gone as soon as they can find a deal.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that I would rather see management roll the dice and see if we can raise the ceiling on the season a bit higher even at the risk of disaster. It would be a whole lot better than actively competing for fourth in the AL East. Rookies and young players are more fun to watch than middling players in the middle of their mediocre careers playing average baseball.
On that note:
Why Alex Gonzalez over John McDonald?
Granted, this isn’t exactly switching young for old, and McDonald isn’t getting any better. Let's take a brief look anyway.
Gonzalez is a definite upgrade at the plate. McDonald is one of those players that drive you crazy. He is so good at defense and equally as bad at offense. I just don’t know if Gonzalez’s bat is really that much better.
McDonald is a career .230 hitter with no power.
Gonzalez is a career .247 hitter with a little pop.
Both players have a career OBP of less than .300
Of course, Gonzalez is no slouch on defense, and that’s why he’s been in the league so long. His fielding percentage stays at around .970 (he doesn’t get to as many balls as McDonald). He even had a bit of a run in the last part of the season in 2009 with the Red Sox. The thing with him, though, is you know exactly what you're going get. He’s peaked; he isn’t going to get any better.
That’s not to say John McDonald’s going to break out and hit .300 this year if he can just get his chance, but he might win the team a Gold Glove and help out the young pitching staff by keeping their ERA and WHIP down.
They should just do it for the pitching staff.
Either way, I guess it will still be a long season.