Monday, August 20, 2012

Picking From The Scrap Heap

I'll be honest:  it's been exceedingly difficult to scare up the necessary motivation to write much about the Blue Jays lately, what with the team languishing in the basement of the AL East and its most exciting talent in various stages of recovery from injury.  Earlier in the season, when the team was healthy, even if they weren't consistently winning games, I could content myself with watching Brandon Morrow and Jose Bautista, because you never knew when they were going to do something special.  Nothing against the Mike McCoys of the world, but it's not like his at-bats get me tingling with anticipation.

Maybe that's giving short shrift to the fill-ins who've had to make the best of it as the every-day lineup gets better.  The effort has been there, but it's abundantly clear that the talent gap between the "championship calibre offense" they are capable of fielding and the second or third string is fairly daunting.

For the sake of comparison, we need only look -- as is so often the case -- at the top of the AL East standings, where an injury-riddled New York Yankees team continues to succeed.  When offensive starters have gone down, the Yankees have had the capacity to replace them with talent that seems to fit the role almost perfectly.  Some of that might seem lucky; I don't think they were counting on a career renaissance from Eric Chavez or for Ichiro Suzuki to land in their laps.  Regardless, they've smartly -- and perhaps more surprisingly, cheaply -- assembled real depth on their roster.

Meanwhile, a quick glance down the Toronto bench, such as it is, has been discouraging all year.  I'm not going to dwell on the offensive ineptitude of Omar Vizquel and Jeff Mathis, because that ground has been well covered.  Yes, the injury epidemic has forced them and others into far more plate appearances than anyone would have liked.  And you can't fill an entire 40-man roster with above-average major leaguers to prepare for the worst.  But no matter who is filling the backup roles, they're going to end up with playing time in 2013.

So what's the solution?  Especially with a few remaining starting spots to fill this offseason?  I could do a little furious rosterbation here and start plugging holes with David Ortiz, Brandon Phillips or Shin-Soo Choo, but given the state of the pitching staff, I have a feeling Alex Anthopoulos is going to have a little less in terms of resources to commit to not only those starting offensive spots, but the bench as well.  If his focus, as he has said, will be on the rotation, he might have to be a little creative on the side of the ledger that includes extra position players.

I'm open to suggestions as to what that creativity should look like.  It's still just August, and it's a bit depressing to be looking ahead to 2013 already anyway.  But I do hope that some serious effort is made to find the kind of depth that always seems to show up on winning teams, if only to relieve me of the sense of impending doom I get whenever the bench is called upon.  It might mean moving up a level from picking through the scrap heap that produced the likes of our beloved Omar -- the non-roster invitees and minor league free agent deals.  Maybe it's time to move on to a better class of scrap heap.


Anonymous said...

This season has been a train wreck of epic proportions.

That is all.

mike in boston said...

Maybe it's time to move on to a better class of scrap heap.

well put.

Dave Church said...

Some of it is definitely luck- Jayson Nix is playing a big role off the Yankees' bench, and he couldn't hack it in Toronto last year.