2014 Spring Training is only a few weeks away, pitchers and catchers officially report for the Blue Jays on Feb 16th any many will find their way down to Dunedin, FL before the deadline in the coming weeks. Shortly after that all position players will join and Spring Training will be in full swing. Except as we stand here on Jan 26th the Blue Jays have an offseason failure on their hands. Lets review.
JP Arencibia – C
2013 line: 138 games – .194/.224/.365 (avg, obp, slg), 21 HR, 55 RBI, .01 WAR (bref WAR)
Overall JP did what JP does, he hit some long balls at the expense of everything else. Only Matt Wieters hit more HR’s as a catcher at 22 in 2013 along with a few others at 21. JP can hit the long ball, he has a flare for the spectacular (see his MLB debut) just as great is his ability to slump hard and I mean hard the guy hit under .200 and only managed a BB% of 3.6%. The Jays didn’t want to bring JP back and they DFA’d him allowing him to sign with the Texas Ragers. I will admit I have always been a huge JP fan and his 2013 was so terrible it crushed my spirit. On the plus side Baseball-reference didn’t hate his defense which earned him a 1.2 dWAR which balanced out his terrible offense a little. I still think there is a chance for the once promising catcher, he is still young and his defense has improved. He has seen some praise for his pitch-framing and when he is not throwing from his knees he is not all a loss. If he can improve his defense even more and find a way to hit for a little average, take a walk once a week he might find his way back to a starting catcher. He might go all Aaron Hill on us but thats a tangent for another day.
Rajai has been a great 4th out fielder, the guy can steal bases and play a respectable defense which can lead to some awesome looking catches. His speed will be missed, he is the best I have seen in the American League on the bases, when he gets on he plays Jedi mind tricks with pitchers. Last year he even got accused of showboating for stealing a handful of bags in a blowout, the guy will be missed. His loss is offset by Anthony Gose who has the speed but not the stealth smarts yet of his predecessor.
Dioner Navarro – C
2013 line with Cubs: 89 games – .300/.365/.492, 13 HR, 34 RBI, 2.0 WAR
Navarro joined the Jays on a 2 year 8 million dollar contract which is a reasonable term and AAV for a 29 year old catcher with some past success and experience. Navarro represents the opposite of offensive JP, he can hit for an average, get on base and has some power but 13-15 HR might be the ceiling instead of the floor. Navarra is not exactly a premium FA signing, he comes with some risks, he hasn’t played over 100 games since 2009 and had his share of underwhelming seasons in the past 5 years. The Jays are buying high on Navarro hoping that 2013 was the “new” Navarro and not the guy from 09-11, don’t even look it ugly! Players can have success get lazy and then find their way back. the Jays are betting on Navarro to be one of them.
As we stand here today that is where the additions end! Coming into 2013 there was a ton of hype surround the Blue Jays, they were a hot pre-season World Series pick after a major roster overhaul. It was refreshing to see the new roster, the hype, the excitement around the Jays having turned it to 11 and that little bit more fell flat. Finishing the 2013 season 74-88 was a letdown, o coming into this offseason fans were expecting something to help them improve for 2014. In fairness the Jays were hit with massive amounts of injuries and some players had disappointing seasons, there is some room for regression back to the mean but extra help is still needed.
The Jays major holes are SP and 2B, I think they can live with what they have at 2B if they can improve their starting pitching. Recently Gibbons predicted its 50/50 if they get a major SP addition but it needs to 100% at this point. Spring Training is just around the bend and when those SP report what they have is just not good enough. They have to do something, doing nothing will mark this offseason as a major failure. When you decide to spend the money, you can’t do it for 1 year fail and then not go for it. The core is set in stone for a few more years and if your not going to take advantage of it then you might as well blow it up. Blue Jays GM Paul Beeston has some explaining to do as his promise of contending 3/5 years is so for 0/2. The dream team of AA & Beeston is loosing its glimmer and a failed 2014 season will cast an angry shadow over Toronto.
The best remaining FA starting pitchers are Ervin Santana & Ubaldo Jimenez, for now I will hold off my preference but the Blue Jays have to execute on one of them ASAP. They have a little time to save face this offseason but time is ticking away making it seem like a failure more and more every day.