Image courtesy of the Toronto Star
I've said all along that this season for the Blue Jays was a year to figure out 'what they really had' since there were so many question marks at multiple positions. Sure everything could have perfectly fell into place, but it was unlikely. Sure the season is still young, however nothing this team has done so far has changed my opinion of my expectations for the season.
That being said it appears that a lot of the answers for the initial questions regarding this team are becoming clearer and the Jays should have a better understanding of what they truly need going forward:
1. Can Colby Rasmus rebound?
Although he continues to struggle at the plate there are signs that he can turn it around, in the meantime his defense has been outstanding and he should continue to be the Jays CF.
2. Can Adam Lind Regain his 2009 form?
The answer to this is a resounding No and it looks like the team has moved on and will look to find a more permanent solution.
3. Is Eric Thames the Answer in LF?
Again the answer is a resounding No as not only did he continue to struggle defensively, but the league found holes in his swing leading to Thames putting up the lowest OPS among the 16 regular left fielders in major league baseball at the time of his demotion to Las Vegas today.
4. What about Travis Snider
Unfortunately this question has yet to be answered as a wrist injury has caused him to miss a significant number of games and hinder his production. However he did show signs of improving his plate discipline prior to the injury. Unfortunately it may be too little too late.
5. Can Brandon Morrow take that Next Step to Acehood?
In spite of his recent shellacking at the hands of the Texas Rangers, Morrow has been the Blue Jays best starting pitcher this season. Has he become an ace? I think it is probably a little premature to say he has, but he continues to improve and will be a trusted key component in the rotation for years to come.
6. What Should we make of Kelly Johnson and Edwin Encarnacion?
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, along with Jose Bautista, these two players have been the the most productive hitters on the team. This is unfortunate because they are both heading into free agency and will likely demand a sizable contract that will outweigh their value. I would recommend the team sell high on these two rather than committing into long term deals for mid level talent.
7. What Can we expect from Brett Lawrie
I love Brett Lawrie's future, however expectations for his performance got out of control during the off-season and people need to remember that he is just 22 years old and just learning to become a major league hitter. I would still lock him up to a long term contract now, and you could probably do this at a much better rate than even a month ago.
8. Which Prospects will have Break Out Seasons
Most of the Jays prospects are still at least a year away from the major leagues, however two players closest to the major leagues include Travis D'Arnaud, who I've never been all that high on, who really looks like a true elite prospect, and Anthony Gose who continues to make great strides in his development. While pitchers Deck McGuire and Chad Jenkins have taken a step back this season, Noah Snydergaard, Aaron Sanchez, Drew Hutchison and Justin Nicolino have all been receiving rave reviews. However, I must caution that other than Hutchison, these pitchers are a long way from the major leagues and a wise man once said "There is no such thing as a pitching prospect". Let's just temper our expectations and enjoy the ride.
So while it appears that many of the questions heading into the season have turned out negatively, I believe this is a positive and the organization now has a clear direction as to what they need to do to improve and take that next step towards becoming a contender.