Coming off an inspired four-game set against the Texas Rangers, the Jays (13-15) continued to carry a hot bat and play aggressively, but simply ran into an elite team on a tear in the Bronx Bombers. In a competitive three-game set, Toronto took the opener 5-3, but then lost a narrow 5-4 Saturday contest and were held at bay by Ivan Nova in a 5-2 Sunday loss.
A Closer Look
Cooper In, Snider Out: If talks of a divide among management over whether or not to demote the slumping Travis Snider prior to his being sent to AAA Las Vegas on Thursday are true, then the weekend offered a small victory for those in favour of the demotion. Not only did David Cooper look fairly comfortable in his first three major league games (two hits, two walks, one RBI), but Snider appeared relaxed and mechanically sound in going 5-for-7 over his first two games with the 51’s. For the record, I still question the decision to send him down rather than letting him make adjustments to his swing and work through his slump with the Jays (more on this later).
Neck Tightness Adds Bautista to the Walking Wounded: Some news is good (Aaron Hill is scheduled to come off the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, Rajai Davis returned with a vengeance this past weekend and Brett Cecil looked to be in 2010 form in a solid Vegas outing on Sunday), some news is bad (Jayson Nix continues to struggle with shin issues and Jose Bautista’s neck pain is a concern), but either way, the Jays continue to churn out the injuries. Not only could the big league club use guys like Nix, Hill, Cecil, Snider and Scott Podsednik, but in the case of the latter three, they are taking at-bats away from other young players developing in the minors.
Future Planning, or Playing to Win Now?: This has often been referred to as a year of growth and development for the Jays’ organization, in which players like Kyle Drabek and JP Arencibia will be offered a chance to grow accustomed to full-time big league duty with the benefits to be enjoyed in the coming seasons. If that is still the team’s intent, then the Snider demotion warrants further explanation. Sure, it resulted in the call-up of Cooper, but is swapping Snider out for Cooper really necessary when Edwin Encarnacion and Juan Rivera continue to gain at-bats? Alex Anthopoulos faces more challenges ahead in terms of incorporating young players, most notably Eric Thames and Brett Lawrie, into the line-up and seems to be off to a rocky start.
Drabek’s Ugly Outing Means Little: In his lacklustre outing on Saturday, Drabek didn’t display any significant loss of velocity or tremble under the pressure of pitching at Yankee Stadium. He simply struggled with his command and got exploited by New York’s group of talented veteran hitters. Five earned runs, seven hits and four walks over 2.1 innings is far from encouraging, but, hey, young pitchers are going to get shelled like that and even a blue chipper like Drabek is no different. Drabek doesn’t have to look far to find an equally pitiful start by a typically reliable hurler, with Ricky Romero getting rocked by those same Yankees for eight earned runs over 2.2 innings just last season. Point being, there is a temptation to judge each Drabek start in a vacuum, but there’s no point in getting too excited over a strong outing or too worked up over a poor one.
The Other Guys: The early goings of a baseball season always seem to be rife with stories of unlikely contributors coming up big for their teams. For the Yankees, AJ Burnett and Curtis Granderson appear to be filling those roles. Burnett won his fourth game of the season on Saturday and looks the part of a confident No. 2 starter in what remains a shaky rotation, while Granderson hit his team-leading eighth home run on Sunday and is establishing himself as a key hitter amidst an intimidating batting order. Both hot starts do come with a word of warning, though, as Burnett owned a 4-0 record and 1.99 ERA through six starts last season before blowing up and finishing 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA, while Granderson had 14 hits in his first 11 games in 2010 before finishing with an underwhelming .247 batting average.
The Jays will hope to preserve what has thus far been a winning (4-3) road trip as they travel to the Trop in Tampa Bay. Tuesday’s opener sees winless Jo-Jo Reyes take to the mound against the Rays’ Wade Davis.
About the Author
Written by Ben Fisher