Gregor Chisholm: Blue Jays mailbag: Don’t count on a trade in next two months to stabilize makeshift rotation
|Toronto Star 04 May 2021 at 16:45|
There is no end in sight to the Blue Jays’ roster churn. It seems like whenever one player returns from injury, another guy goes down. It’s just going to be one of those seasons for a team that hopes to still be playing by the time October rolls around.
George Springer’s status keeps changing by the day. Two games after Teoscar Hernandez was activated from the injured list, the Blue Jays lost catcher Alejandro Kirk for the foreseeable future to a strained hip flexor. By now it should be obvious, this year is a battle of attrition.
With so many guys coming in and out of the lineup, there have been a lot of roster moves to pour over and fans are becoming increasingly interested in what type of help can be brought in from outside the organization. We’ll deal will all that in this week’s mailbag.
The Blue Jays have been able to float by on their makeshift rotation for the first 27 games and it’s worked relatively well. At what point is an acquisition made to stabilize the rotation or is it made from within?
— James T. Mitchell, Ontario
The Blue Jays have made it through one month with their current staff and they’ll likely need to survive at least two more before help is brought in from the outside. This isn’t the time of year big moves get made and the rumours aren’t going to start picking up until teams across the league start falling out of contention and begin looking ahead to 2022.
The general rule of thumb used to be that the trade market didn’t start heating up until after the annual MLB draft, which usually takes place in early June. That won’t be the case this year because the draft was moved back to July 11, which means teams are going to explore trades at the same time they are dedicating a lot of resources to the amateur ranks.
For now, any improvement will have to come from within. Nate Pearson and Alek Manoah have already begun their seasons at Triple-A Buffalo while Hyun-Jin Ryu is still expected to return from the injured list to start later this week in Oakland. Thomas Hatch, who has been out all year with an elbow injury, is another name to keep an eye on but his return isn’t imminent and could extend into June.
If the Blue Jays find themselves in a serious contending position come deadline, do you think the Jays trade one of their top prospects for legit top-quality SP help and if so, who would you ideally target? In order to get within striking distance, don’t we need greater starting pitching depth?
— Nick, Hamilton
That depends on your definition of a top prospect. If you’re talking about someone like Nate Pearson, Austin Martin, Jordan Groshans or Simeon Woods Richardson — the top four ranked prospects by MLB Pipeline — the answer is no. The only way someone like that gets moved is if it’s for a big piece that comes with multiple years of control, and even then, it would signal a big change in the approach by the front office.
Players who are further down that list are the ones more likely to be dealt. Gabriel Moreno and Riley Adams are two young catchers who could be shopped, infielder Orelvis Martinez is a candidate to have a breakout season and there’s a long list of less familiar names within the club’s top 30 that likely would be made available.
To specifically answer your question, yes, I expect the Blue Jays to trade prospects. They did that last year by acquiring Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker and Ross Stripling but those guys came cheap because of the abbreviated schedule. The cost this year should be much higher, but that doesn’t mean it will include one of the top guys. Assuming the San Francisco Giants eventually fall out of first place, right-hander Kevin Gausman is a logical candidate and someone the Blue Jays have been tied to before.
Hi Gregor: I enjoy your column and look forward to it each day. I have a question which continues to haunt me. Simply put “Why are there so many injuries in today’s baseball?” Sure, there have always been injuries but nothing like today. I don’t remember Roy Campanella or Yogi Berra being injured.
— Larry, Kingston
This type of question gets asked a lot by long-time fans, and I get it. Players are getting injured at a record pace, but the game has changed enough over the years that it should be expected. For pitchers, most of this comes down to velocity. Guys are pitching harder than ever before and anyone who took a Biomechanics class can tell you there’s nothing natural about the throwing motion. The harder you throw, the more stress you put on ligaments and muscles in the arm and shoulder.
Similar logic applies to position players. Guys spend more time working out and lifting weights than previous generations with the goal of maximizing power. That means most players are in much better shape than the eras that came before but tighter muscles also increase the odds of soft tissue strains or tears. With millions of dollars at stake, players are also hypersensitive to not wanting to play through injuries that could put their long-term future at risk.
What should the Jays do about Bo Bichette’s throwing problems? Seems like it’s on the verge of a case of the ‘yips.’ Is there a quick fix, or just hope it goes away, or time to move him to a new position?
— Terry, Toronto
I don’t think the Blue Jays should do anything except continue running Bichette out there every day and see where he ends up at the end of the year. I’ve been saying this for awhile, I don’t necessarily expect Bichette to stick at short forever, but he has yet to play a full season in the majors and he deserves at time to see whether he can figure things out.
If there’s a move to be made to improve the defence, it should involve moving Semien to third and putting Biggio back at second base. There’s no need to panic and move a guy like Semien on a one-year deal to supplant the franchise player at short. Let’s see where Bichette ends up at the end of the season and if fielding is still a concern, it can be addressed over the winter.
What are the Blue Jays doing? I hate to say it, but it looks like the Jays are doing a ‘Tavares’ . . . they are messing with their young players by taking away playing time. In other words, sign older players to big contracts and never see what the young guys can do as the Leafs had to trade them away (Kapanen, etc.). At least Semien is only signed for a year, which says they weren’t sure about him, I guess?