Changes are coming fast these days for the Toronto Blue Jays — well, as far as the coaching staff is concerned anyway.
Whether it’a fair or not, somebody had to pay for the team’s 2013 misadventures, and it seems to make sense that GM Alex Anthopoulos made those changes with at the coaching level and with the reported near-hiring of former Kansas City Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer to replace the recently-fired Chad Mottola.
After all, Seitzer does have a working history with Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons, and whether this team sinks or swims in 2014, wouldn’t the man at the helm want to do it with his guys?
The results of this move will have to wait, of course, but it’d be an understatement to say that Seitzer has his work cut out for him as far as what he needs to do to help this club play to its potential. If the team goes into the 2014 season with the same on-field personnel as they ended 2013 with, there’s a laundry list’s worth of things to fix here from J.P. Arencibia‘s all-or-nothing bat that’s far too often the latter, to making sure that Melky Cabrera‘s 2013 issues don’t go deeper than his removed back tumor.
Given that he’s already worked his magic with the latter, you’d have to think that he might just be able to do some good there, even if talk about coaching impact is mostly guesswork at best.
One thing that will not require any guessing, however, is what Seitzer’s most important task would be for the 2014 Blue Jays: fixing Brett Lawrie.
Though his struggles may have gone just a little bit under the radar given the rest of the mess that the Blue Jays had to endure, it’s hard to see the youngster’s 2013 season as anything but yet another disappointment, injury-plagued or not.
It doesn’t seem particularly necessary to point to his numbers here, as most folks already know that the spark plug who burst into the league in 2011 looking like an immediate top-tier third baseman has been anything but since, with the cause likely a combination of a number of reasons.
What is clear, however, is that the bluebirds surely can’t go another year with Lawrie as a below-average player at third base and expect to compete for a postseason berth. Upside or not, it’s just not a luxury that the team has in the short term given that they’ve made moves to open up a window of competitiveness.
Looking at things at perhaps what you’d say is a glasses-half-full perspective, it’s not hard to see that another year of soul-sucking failure could see sweeping changes to the core of the team, meaning Seitzer’s new job, as well as that of Gibbons (and perhaps that of Anthopoulos in a stretch scenario) could be immediately at stake here.
As the Blue Jay have already seen (even if it feels like forever ago), Lawrie has the ability to be a game-changer with his offensive abilities as well as his attitude. That goes both ways, and should Seitzer be hired as the new hitting coach, he’ll have to make sure that it goes more towards 2011 than it has in he last two seasons.