While Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder outslugged him in the final round for the 2012 Home Run Derby title, Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista doesn’t want to see the same fate befall his team in its run to the playoffs.
In the Monday night event at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Bautista captured the opening round with 12 homers but had to win a swingoff against Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo in the second round before being beaten 12-7 by Fielder in the final round.
Prior to the home-run competition, Bautista spoke to reporters and stated his view that the Jays wouldn’t keep him on the club if general manager Alex Anthopoulos wasn’t planning on his club making a push for the postseason.
“It’s kind of the (same) situation as when Doc (Roy Halladay) was here,” Bautista told the press. “I don’t want to put myself in that category, put myself on a pedestal, but I’d think that I would be (Anthopoulos’s) biggest trading chip. … We’re not in a bad position right now.”
When looking at the offense, Bautista is right on the money. Joey Bats and the other bats on the club — most notably Colby Rasmus, Brett Lawrie, Edwin Encarnacion, J.P. Arencibia and a suddenly resurgent Adam Lind — have been tearing the cover off the ball in the last month or so.
Toronto’s pitching staff is another story; it has taken a beating over the past few weeks, with the latest casualty being reliever Luis Perez. An MRI revealed that he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow last Sunday, knocking him out for the rest of the season.
It’s the most recent cruel twist of fate which has also swallowed up starters Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchinson — they have both had Tommy John surgery and won’t be back until sometime next season — while reliever Dustin McGowan has experienced another setback in his recovery from his latest injury woes.
Even without the injuries, the Jays’ bullpen (other than closer Casey Janssen) has underperformed at best, echoing last season’s disastrous performances by Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco. Anthopoulos let them walk — they both ended up signing with the New York Mets — and acquired up-and-comer Sergio Santos and signing veteran free agent Francisco Cordero.
Those two moves simply haven’t worked out to this point: Santos was wild in his six appearances, and has been injured for almost all of the first half of the season; Cordero has been flat-out awful, going 3-5 with two saves and an ugly 6.00 ERA in 39 games.
The Blue Jays are in the toughest division in the major leagues, so they probably aren’t going to win the American League East title. The competition for the two wild-card spots is equally intense, but not insurmountable: the Jays are currently 2.5 games behind. If the Jays are serious about getting one of those spots, the club should heed Bautista’s words and become buyers rather than sellers — sooner rather than later.