We're not sure that we qualify as charter members of the Bautista Appreciation Society, but we've looked pretty kindly on him since he was acquired for Robinson Diaz almost two years ago.
Our thought on him at the time was that he was a good player with positional flexibility who could, in a pinch, play every day and provide you with enough offense to get by. He was John McDonald with more pop, or some variation on Marco Scutaro. Certainly, something better than Hector Luna.
At this point, it's hard to even attempt to rationalize what that the Jays have in JoBau, especially after a night of making Orioles pitchers' heads snap back. But considering what the Jays gave up to get him (a guy who is now the backup catcher in Toledo rocking a .592 OPS), the Jays are pretty much playing with the house's money at this point with JoBau.
If they let him stick around and go through the arbitration process and he suddenly turns into a pumpkin (as Keith Law insinuated he would on last night's Prime Time Sports), then the Jays are out some salary, but not much more.
If the Jays were to take Law's advice and move Bautista before the deadline and before what KLaw considers his inevitable downturn, it's possible that the Jays could get a couple of prospects who might be in the Top 10 of someone's system, and who might be amongst the five-of-ten to make it to the bigs, and might be one of the two who stick, and who might be the one who is a productive, everyday player.
Either way, there are an awful lot of "mights" in those equations, aren't there?
Our thought remains that the Jays should let this season and the first half of the next play out, and see what they have in JoBau at that point. He might not need to be this type of monster for the rest of his career with the Jays to have value. If he is a late bloomer who could offer 25 homers, an OPS over .850 and a great outfield arm, then maybe you see this through. If he regresses much further back, then so be it. Maybe the team didn't sell the asset at the top of its value, but really, how many do?
We've been bothered lately with the notion that Bautista fits into a category with past Jays 30+ homer flashes, like Ed Sprague, Tony Batista and Brad Fullmer. But if you keep yourself from overestimating the value of the prospects that you're going to get back for him, maybe you can be comfortable walking away from the table no better or worse then when you sat down.
José Bautista Fact - He's better than Matt Wieters
Going back to Keith Law (because I seem to love to pick apart his arguments these days): He said last year that "Sliced bread is actually the best thing since Matt Wieters."
Well, here's a gentleman's wager for KLaw: We'd be willing to bet that - in spite of the precipitous downturn that is anticipated any moment now because of his age - José Bautista finishes up his career with more home runs than Matt Wieters.
(And what are the chances that we're still blogging when either of those guys finish their career? Cripes...We'll be damn near retired by then!)