The Toronto Blue Jays are said to be trying to balance their heavy and fair line-up and have done so without breaking the bank.
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The Toronto Blue Jays ended the 2021 season with a heavily biased formation on the right side of the pot. Throughout the off-season, we’ve been hearing different reports of how much players were pursuing to address this issue. Some say they were absolutely determined to get a left-handed hitter and others say it would have been nice, but not a priority. Well, with the 2022 season approaching, it looks like the truth was somewhere in between.
It should be acknowledged that the roster moves that have been made may not necessarily reflect the efforts that have taken place during the off-season. There are probably a lot of club moves I could they did, but for whatever reason, they didn’t. For example, we had heard that Toronto was “in”. Corey Seager before signing in Texas. Also, there was the rumor that has captivated all of MLB for a period of time and that was it Freddie Freeman. Obviously, landing one of these would show exactly how
desperate focused on a southpaw who was the club. As we all know, neither worked and we will probably never know how far Toronto was “in” them.
While the two aforementioned stars didn’t sign in Toronto, there was clearly at least some focus on balancing the lineup. Second Fangraphthe planned lineup, 3 of the 4 Toronto bench players are left-handed hitters to get along with Cavan Biggio. Reese McGuire, Greg Bird And Raimel Tapia will join Santiago Spinale, who is the only right bench bat. Unlike the potential major contractual commitments that Seager or Freeman would have required, these bench clubs don’t cost the Blue Jays as much and will likely produce solid returns for the small investment they cost.
For his part, McGuire cost the Blue Jays nothing other than a place on the roster. He will do the minimum of the alloy and it won’t reach arbitration until 2023. The cost of adding it was paid a long time ago. He is perfectly acceptable as a backup hunter and will provide both days off Danny Jansen or Alejandro Kirk, which appears to be set up to occupy the DH seat. Of course, if Kirk is dealt, McGuire’s value increases.
Tapia (together with Adriano Pinto) it was acquired in return Randal Grichuk and nearly $ 10 million. Depending on how much of a Grichuk fan you were, the cost of this deal might seem different. If you’re a Grichuk fan, it might seem like the Blue Jays have given up too much. However, when you consider that he was 4th winger on this Blue Jays roster, he seems a little less expensive. In Tapia, the Blue Jays have actually acquired the skill set they actually need for their roster. They needed a true 4th winger and Tapia is as close as possible, certainly closer to that than Grichuk was.
Tapia offers speed, for sure. This is incredibly valuable at the end of the game, as is his solid defense from the outside. Even though he hasn’t played much CF in the big leagues, he should be able to replace him Giorgio Springer better than Grichuk. This is on the surface. Below the surface is an impressive project that screams to be taken over. For a full explanation of why this is the case, I recommend that you watch this video:
I’ll give a quick rundown of Jolly Olive’s deep dive on Tapia: Basically, Tapia is an extreme land ball thrower. Its launch angle (LA) is incredibly low, as well below zero. Home runners tend to have an LA of around 20% or so. Some more, some less. He has power, but he seems to have focused more on using his speed and the rather enjoyable skills to hit the ball. What’s interesting is that Jolly Olive points out that when Tapia hits line drives, he’s much more successful. In short, he’s a good hitter playing in an era of homer strikes.
This is where the Blue Jays come in. With a little coaching, maybe Tapia can take advantage of his gaps and speed and maybe even get him to a few more home runs. That said, he was not inclined to hit dingers. Toronto has enough guys who can do it. The skill set he has is perfect for a 4th winger with some potential to get a little more out of him. If the Blue Jays can do it, Grichuk’s cost won’t seem so bad. Winning is a lot more fun than any player, even if he’s as handsome as Grichuk.
Finally, we come to Greg Bird. Signed on a minor league contract, Bird is looking first to show MLB teams that his long list of injuries didn’t get him out of the game entirely and, secondly, to get the big league roster out. from Spring Training. So far, he’s definitely making the case for him. In 12 spring bars, Bird has 2 homers, 5 RBI, 5 BB and only 1 strike out for a 1,588 OPS. Obviously, that type of production won’t last, but it will definitely grab management’s attention. Perhaps, after spending the year in the Rockies AAA affiliate, he’s ready to take his place on a big league roster again. It would be acceptable support Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and a late left pinch hitter if he does.
Despite all the talk about the Blue Jays needing left-handed hitters, they’ve reaped their share and done it rather quietly. They haven’t made a great deal of success signing a Seager or a Freeman. Instead, they managed to round out their list with an interesting balance and it cost them very little in the grand scheme of things. McGuire and Bird cost nothing and Tapia costs Grichuk. But, for what the Blue Jays gave up, they’ve created a roster that better addresses the skills (and pairings) they’ll need for a long season. Removing the names from the Colorado deal helps focus on that. The Blue Jays are now a more complete team, prepared for a long season, a season that could lead to a division title.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Shaun Doyle is a longtime Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put these things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly rated in iTunes, and has appeared in TV and radio commercials.