Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Well, it’s good to be back. I’ve been missing in action the whole of the summer. I had a great time and had hoped to be enjoying the fruits of the spring with the Jays. However, I see that is not the case. This season has come crashing down on the past promise of spring excitement and hope. So many injuries and so many uneven displays of skill and prowess.

When I left, the Jays were flirting with a possible  wild-card birth. Now, of course, they are in the dumper with the unexpected Orioles in the mix. The O’s have shocked all of us with their depth and stamina and, Will is right, they have come from the bottom in the past. I remember the last couple of games in the season of ’89 when everyone was talking the O’s and whether the Jays could best them in the end. The Jays’ owned the Orioles last year, not now. I wish them well and hope they continue to push the Yanks buttons. The Jays certainly don’t.

I want to focus on three Jays that have had different years than expected.

The Good:

Edwin Encarnacion
I have ragged on Edwin Encarnacion since he came here in a trade for Scott Rollin. JP Richardi had to move on Rollin, who rightfully, was very unhappy with a “going nowhere” Jays campaign. Encarnacion could not throw the ball or field the ball and was definitely on his away out with the Reds. He had one good year of hitting – 26 HR – but you could not have him in the field.

So the Jays get him and of course he does the same thing. Then he gets put in the lineup as DH. With the glove out of his hand and no fielding decisions to make, he does better at the end of the year. So what to do with him? They make him into a first baseman and platoon him with the enigmatic Adam Lind, who was also struggling hitting the ball. Encarnacion does better at the end of the season again. He could now play first surprisingly well and catch a ball.

This season is a career one for him. He has increased his range and now plays first like a first baseman. His focus and discipline at the plate have been fantastic. Not just with HRs, but in the number of pitches per appearance and with hits in general. Having him in the lineup everyday has helped him focus – Lind will have to hit lefties to stay with the team at all.

I have to say Encarnacion is the most improved player on the team. I hope this new attitude continues for a long time.

The Bad:

Ricky Romero
Ricky Romero has had the worst year of his career, with now 14 no-decisions in a row. Even when not terrible he can’t get a break – Ichiro had a big day at the plate yesterday – 6 for 8 and 4 for 4 against Romero. It is clear to everyone that Romero has lost his confidence and is no longer the best pitcher nor even the leader of the staff.

The season held high expectations for him and all of us. When the wheels fell off the rest of the staff, with the incredible injury list, Romero could not seem to cope. The pressure has continued to build and no way out of the predicament has been found – it is hard to forget the 8 straight walks issued against the Tigers this season. Romero’s ERA is 5.87 with a WHIP of 1.62. For Romero, last year was much different with an ERA just 2.92 and WHIP of 1.14. Ricky Romero has been the player who lived up to expectations the least this season.

The Ugly:

Yunel “Mr. Sensitivity” Escobar
It should be no surprise that Yunel Escobar wins this title. He’s a too-tall shortstop who has made some brilliant plays but has no plate discipline and who can also offend ball fans. It was simply stupid for him to make comment of any kind on his eye black. What was he thinking? Oh right, he wasn’t. Well, he is paying and will continue to pay the price. I am offended that he is so full of himself that he thinks this is funny. A three-game suspension may be appropriate, but he has damaged his career at least with the Jays and their fans.

It is hubris to think he is beyond the likes of mortal ball players. It is too much for me. His record and career stats do not indicate stardom, much less with Adeiny Hechavarria waiting in the wings and playing somewhat better. He should learn the history of Roberto Alomar. I guess we will find out in the spring if Escobar still has a job as a Blue Jay.

A tip of the cap to Casey Janssen, Jeff Mathis and Darren Oliver who have also exceeded expectations this season.

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

Welcome back, John. Great piece on the Jays!