The one thing I like most about spring training baseball is just how hard it is to analyze. The games really don’t mean anything. Obviously its always better to win than loose. That goes without saying. But who played in those wins or losses? And maybe more importantly, who played against us? Did the Blue Jays starters play, and were they against reserves or the best the opposition had to offer?
All of these questions matter, when you are to objectively evaluate the team and how hopefully you want to be for the year ahead. It why an undefeated Spring Training Team can miss the playoffs and a winless team can win it all in come October. The scores themselves only tell a small portion of the story.
So here we stand, at the end of the opening weekend of Spring Training and the Blue Jays are 3-1 (whoop whoop) after the first four games. But our expected starters only played in two of the games (hmmm) and combined for 3.1 innings and an ERA of 18.00 (eeek). But again none of it actually matters (haha).
Arden Zwelling had an interesting piece yesterday about George Springer. I had wondered at him not playing yet, but this makes complete sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of this, this year. As I wrote about last Friday, with the shortened Spring Training the Blue Jays will need to balance out trusting the starters to get themselves ready while giving the fringe players the most opportunities to make the roster. If we have players capable of getting themselves ready by themselves I’m all for it. In fact there is probably merit in it. You can manipulate the number of plate appearances, the types of pitches thrown and really help get the players into the right spots.
Pitching differs a little, so I do find it surprising we’ve not seen more of the starters. They need the routine of the 5 days rotation, the pre game warm up etc more than the everyday guys need to stand around the outfield and only see curve balls because that’s what the opposition pitcher is working today. Perhaps though as I’ll get to later in the blog, the reason we’re not seeing too many starts yet, is because we’ve so many bull pen questions.
Here are a couple of notes I made over the 4 game thus far.
- Alejandro Kirk: Not to be a body shamer in any way, but I was disappointed that Kirk didn’t enter camp in better shape. Obviously he’s a big leaguer as he is. He’s doing just fine, but in the same way Vladdy has taken that next leap since transforming his diet, I think Alejandro could benefit form the same. That said.. he’s picked up right where he’s left off and is out preforming Janson and if he keeps it up I expect him to get at least 3 of every 5 behind the plate this year.
- Vladdy and Chapman: Vladdy just being Vladdy, and Mark showing no signs of the hip issue have both gone long (really long) already. Will there be a better 1-2 punch in the league this year? I doubt it.
- Nathan Lukes: I bit of a journey man only in camp as an NRI, but he’s took his chances as best you could ask for thus far. Hard to see a spot for him without an injury but I’ve liked what he’s done.
- 0.60: The teams BB/K over the four games. Look a lot of this will be down to some eager youngsters just up there hacking hoping to hit a big one and make a highlight reel, but plate discipline (a hallmark of the 2021 team) really needs to improve
The other fun thing with Spring Training is trying to work out who will break camp with the team. I’m not convinced we know all the pieces in this game this year though.
Right now there are only 38 registered players on the 40 man roster, and while 2 of those spots would be needed should any of the NRI’s make the team, I also think there are more trades to be made, and I’m not convinced the Jays are finished doing business.
Going into the offseason the Jays were in a good position of trade wealth to be able to do some dealing. Thus far only 4 lower level prospects have been traded. All the other acquisition’s came via Free Agency. Not something any of us are overly used to here in Toronto. So maybe that means we don’t need to trade this year? But I still think the bullpen could use at least one more proven solid arm.
It’s that bullpen too that is the only question mark when it comes to the 25 man roster. Though I’ve written previously that I personally would like to see more compaction in the rotation spots, I think we’re set with Berrios, Gausman, Ryu, Kikuchi and Manoah. Like wise the lineup writes itself. Springer, Bichette, Guerrero Jr., Chapman, Gurriel Jr., Hernández and Biggio will be your everyday 7 with 2 of Jansen, Kirk, Espinal or Grichuk depending on the day. That makes 16, leaving just the 9 bullpen spots open for grabs.
There are 13 Non Roster Pitchers in camp, and the current 40 man consists of 10 bullpen (or would/could be starters). 23 into 9 doesn’t go, so that leaves a ton of decisions for Charlie and the front office to make.
Ok we’ll leave it there for today… thanks for reading.