Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)
Let's just address the elephant in the room. There's really no point in tip-toeing around it and coming across as condescending, as I admittedly tend to. So let's just get into it.
The bats are dead. Within 10 of their first dozen games, the Jays have failed to score more than 4 runs. As a team, their strikeout percentage is sitting at 24%, while their walk percentage is at 8%. Both of which are incredibly poor. Moreover, they currently rank 26th in hits, 29th in home runs and extra base hits, 30th in RBI's, slugging, and OPS, and 27th in team batting average (if you're into that sort of thing). All not good.
JA Happ's elbow is being examined after experiencing tightness in Saturday's game against the Orioles in the 5th inning. Elbow anything for a pitcher is always worrisome. All you can do is hope for the best while expecting the worst.
Aaron Sanchez was placed on the 10-Day DL with blister issues that he has reportedly been battling for quite some time now. He is visiting a hand-specialist to analyze the issue which, hopefully, will be remedied for good.
Roberto Osuna's velocity has been hovering around 92-93 mph; down from around 98 - where we are used to seeing from the closer.
This is the oldest team in baseball. So even if you are thinking about selling off the team at this point, it's going to be incredibly hard to as these are aging assets that come with huge contract commitments (I'll get to that in a bit).
According to Fan Graphs, their playoff odds currently sit at 17.8%.
Lastly, the Jays are 2-10; the worst start in the history of the franchise and the worst in all of baseball right now.
I'm more than sure there are other things that are making a good chunk of the fanbase pissed that I haven't listed, but those are the main things that are at the forefront. Look, all of these things are true and I'm not turning a blind eye towards them. I'll be the first to admit that the Jays are playing terribly and not like a team that began the season off of an ALCS appearance the previous year. I won't deny that it sucks to watch and that it is incredibly frustrating. None of us want to see the Jays play like this and none of us want the Jays to be dead-last in all of baseball (in fairness, St. Louis is 3-9 - just for comparison's sake). The hole that they are digging themselves in is becoming harder and harder to climb out of with the addition of each outing they lose. However, the reason why I (choose to) remain optimistic is because it's far from impossible to climb out of this hole, as there is still plenty of baseball to be played. There are 150 games left, so claiming that the season is "over" at this point is still ridiculously premature if we're basing this on pure mathematics (which... ya know, facts and all...).
But if I am to play this game - which I really don't want to - and entertain the notion that the Jays should begin thinking about selling off some of their assets (Buster Olney reports that rival executives are already planning on this), it's not nearly as easy as some fans want to believe it is. This isn't fantasy baseball and players that are playing poorly cannot be moved for young ones with a lot of upside. I don't care how savvy the GM is, moving players that are not producing won't bring back much to write home about - if anything at all. Further, the players that teams would want to trade for are the same players that the fanbase does not want to see gone; thereby hyping up those Twitter thumbs even more than they already are.
IF things stay the way they are, players that (some) fans assume would be "so easy" to move - Martin, Bautista, and Tulowitzki - aren't going to be in high demand by teams that would be considered buyers come the trade deadline. Teams that are in contention and are vying for a playoff spot want players that will produce and enable the club to make a strong push, not declining assets. IF we are to believe that the aforementioned players won't progress and flip the script on their offensive woes (I don't, btw), then they are going to be incredibly hard to liquidate. If you don't want them on your team, what makes you think other teams will? It's not like GMs of other teams only pay attention to the team they run. A player's production is much more valued than the appeal of their name, and there are very very very few exceptions when it comes to this.
Thus, if you really want the Jays to be sellers (which you won't after I explain), the players that they would have a much easier time selling off are players like Donaldson, Liriano, Happ (so long as this injury isn't serious), Sanchez, Stroman, Pillar, Biagini, and mmmaaayyybbeee Morales. In other words, the players that are actually doing quite well and are producing for the team. Still want to sell?
Look, no one is blowing up the Jays' phone-line begging to make a deal for players like Pearce or Carrera - it's not happening. Could they be packaged? Sure, but it would be combined with the latter set of players I listed that no one wants to see gone. I can't believe I'm even discussing this.
So you have to choose. Would you rather wait it out and see if the former set of players - that are currently unmovable - start to turn it around and hit the way we know they are capable of hitting? Or are you so desperate to see the Jays start a fresh rebuild after only twelve games have passed that you'd be willing to trade away the latter set of players, eliminating all hope of another post-season appearance this year? There really is no in between.
Once you start looking at things logically and cogently, you realize that it's just far too early to even consider anything close to a rebuild and/or fire-sale. It's only April, and it's not unlikely to see teams fall in slumps during other parts of the season. I mean, ask yourself - would you rather see the Jays go 2-10 at this point in the season or in September when they could be battling for a Wild Card spot? The answer is obvious.
Yes, it sucks. Yes, it's frustrating. Yes, we hate seeing this. But let's at least let a few months of baseball pass so we can assess where the Jays are to evaluate what the future will likely hold. Any talk of trading away players or blowing up the team - it's just too soon for all of that and you're wasting your breath. Is it possible that what we are seeing is what the Jays are? Of course it is. But do we really believe that the team, collectively, will be this bad for the entire season? That's just silly.
Further, 7 of the 10 games the Jays lost were only by 2 runs or less. Surely if the bats start to wake up, these results may start to reduce and the team can get right back in it. I'm not saying this will be easy, but it's certainly conceivable. Of course, the margin for error is slimming at a rapid pace, but it's not like the whole season has been put to rest because of the first 12 games. This isn't the NFL.
I know you all hate hearing that it's early, so we can put that aside. Let's just give it some time to see exactly what it is we're dealing with before we make any rash and hasty decisions. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned, because I am. This isn't what any of us expected going into the season, so it's fair to wonder just what the hell is going on. But I also refuse to believe the following:
- They're this bad.
- The lack of Edwin screwed up the chemistry enough to lose 10 out of 12 games.
- They're this bad.
- We're witnessing an incredibly sharp decline in production from players like Bautista and Martin and this is what they will be henceforth.
- They're this bad.
If things stay status quo up until the All-Star break, then I'll start to consider other options. For now, let's just see what happens. Trust me - they're probably much more worried about it than we are and part of their craft is making adjustments. It can only get better from here. Remember, part of being a legit fan is sticking with your favorite team no matter what. So stick with them.
We've got the Red Sox for three games starting tomorrow. For my sake, as a New Englander, let's flip the script and shove it down their throats.
Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)