5 Radical Changes To Improve Toronto Blue Jays Struggling Lineup

By Mark Hock

The Toronto Blue Jays have struggled since the All Star break, going 10-16 while being outscored by 29 runs. They’re scoring 3.8 runs a game since the All Star break, a far cry from their 5 runs a game in the first half of the season. Losing key bats such as Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie have crippled the Jays ability to score runs. It’s also forced prospects like Anthony Gose and Adeiny Hechavarria into starting roles far before they were ready. So in order to salvage what’s left of the season, I’ve come up with 5 radical ideas in order to give the Jays a fighting chance at respectability. Because right now, respectability is the best the Blue Jays can hope for.

1) Demote Anthony Gose and Adeiny Hechavarria to AAA

While everyone is excited to see Gose and Hechavarria play in the majors, one thing has become painfully clear – they’re simply not major league ready. While they’ve been forced into an everyday role, their inability to make consistent contact or lay off a breaking ball makes them an automatic out in the Jays lineup. If they were major league ready it’d be one thing, but neither of them are and it’s clear they need more development time in AAA.

I’m not that high on Hechavarria to begin with, as he looks like a John McDonald clone. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means it’s unlikely he’ll ever be a productive starting shortstop as his bat is too weak for the position. Gose at least has the upside to be a starting centerfielder, but he needs significantly more time to work on his swing. Maybe in 2013 they’ll be ready, but right now they need to be playing every day in AAA. Not sitting on the bench while Omar Vizquel or Rajai Davis get to play over the talented youngsters in the majors.

2) Play Moises Sierra everyday in right field

While Gose and Hech have looked overmatched in the majors, Sierra has looked like he’s belonged since the beginning. He’s been able to hit for average and power, and he’s played some solid defence along the way. The lack of walks are a concern, but he’s not striking out much either.

Like Gose, Sierra could probably use some extra development time in the majors. But the Jays don’t currently have that luxury, and it’s important that Sierra plays everyday at whatever level he’s in. For now, he’s shown the most of any Blue Jays outfield prospect, and that’s why he deserves a shot at playing full time.

3) Designate Juan Abreu for assignment, add Tuffy Gosewisch (AAA Las Vegas) to the 40 man roster

If your first thought was who is Gosewisch, you wouldn’t be alone. He’s currently one of the catchers for the AAA Las Vegas 51’s. His inclusion to the roster is merely to act as a backup catcher, giving Jeff Mathis the occasional day off. More importantly, having Gosewisch on the roster frees up Yan Gomes from his role as the backup catcher, allowing him to play third base full time in Brett Lawrie’s absence. Gomes has clearly struggled this season, but playing him over Hechavarria or Omar Vizquel makes the Jays a better team.

4) Move Jason Frasor to the 60 day disabled list, add Jack Cust to the 40 man roster, and make him the starting left fielder

Cust hasn’t had an at bat in the majors since 2011, but he’d be a better option in left over Rajai Davis. While Davis is the ideal fourth outfielder, useful for defensive replacements, speed in the late innings, and hitting lefties, he simply has never been that effective against right handed pitchers. Moving him to the bench gives the Jays another left handed power bat in Cust, a player whoTorontocan take out in the later innings for the superior defender in Davis. If nothing else, it’ll ensure that Blue Jays fans don’t have to watch Davis predictably flail away at sliders low and away for strike 3 against every right handed pitcher.

5) Release Omar Vizquel

This might be the toughest move for the Jays, as Vizquel is a well respected clubhouse leader. However, it’s become clear that Vizquel is taking up a roster spot that the Jays simply can’t afford with their injury depleted lineup. Vizquel shouldn’t be used as a starter, he can’t hit (493 OPS) and his fielding is simply not up to par. He’s had a fantastic career, but given the Jays struggles in the middle infield it is imperative that they have a backup capable of starting and giving Kelly Johnson or Yunel Escobar the night off.

The Jays might be reluctant to release Vizquel, but given that he’s only played in 41 games for a team that loses a player to injury nearly every other night it’s become clear that the Jays are simply afraid of playing him. Given the struggles of the Jays middle infielders, and the fact that their bench is often short because of the 8 man bullpen or a player is considered day to day and thus ineligible to play, it’s simply inexcusable to waste a roster spot on a player thatTorontorefuses to play.

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