Toronto Blue Jays’ Long-Term Success Hinges on Short-Term Solutions
With the possibility of losing shortstop Jose Reyes for up to three months, Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has promptly begun the search for a short-term solution to his team’s infield woes. Having already missed Brett Lawrie for the first 13 games of the 2013 season, the Blue Jays must now deal with the devastating loss of one of the most dynamic players in all of baseball.
Jose Reyes’ combination of speed and athleticism has made him one of the most prolific shortstops in Major League Baseball. As Anthopoulos alluded to following the incident, the Blue Jays have already engaged in trade talks with other teams, expressing interest in acquiring infield depth. Reyes is an irreplaceable talent and his enthusiasm will certainly be missed in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse. However, in order for Toronto to emerge as a contender in the highly competitive American League East, it is essential that it does not falter as a result of this injury.
Last season, the Blue Jays’ playoff hopes quickly diminished following significant injuries to star players such as Jose Bautista and Brandon Morrow. In a season with such high expectations, the Blue Jays must find players that will fill the short-term void left by the absence of their All-Star shortstop.
Following the incident on Friday night in Kansas City, Munenori Kawasaki was immediately called up from Triple-A Buffalo by the Blue Jays and has started the past four games at shortstop. Kawasaki’s defensive ability will provide the Blue Jays with some security at that position; he’s a two-time World Baseball Classic gold medalist with Team Japan and made his MLB debut in 2012 as a member of the Seattle Mariners. Kawasaki possesses good speed and boasts a high on-base percentage. While playing professional baseball in Japan, he recorded an incredible 267 stolen bases and owned a career batting average of .294.
The injury to Reyes also prompted Jose Bautista to temporarily move from right field to third base in an attempt to shore up the Blue Jays’ infield situation. Bautista started the final two games of the Kansas City series at third base where he was strong defensively and blasted a decisive two-run shot in the Blue Jays’ 3-1 victory on Saturday evening.
Bautista is currently nursing a back injury, which he suffered while playing third base in Kansas City. His minor injury has presented Emilio Bonifacio with more playing time in the outfield, which is a concern for many Blue Jays fans, especially following his poor defensive play at second base to begin the season.
While it is still very early in the 2013 season, a poor start can certainly affect a team’s postseason aspirations. Anthopoulos has experienced this first-hand and understands the significance of acquiring strong depth players in order to be a successful franchise.
If the Blue Jays hope to live up to the hype as World Series contenders, their newly re-shuffled lineup must step up without Reyes to fill the significant void left as a result of this unfortunate injury.