There was certainly no ‘O’ in ‘Blue Jays’ (36-39) in the team’s trio of losses at Atlanta’s Turner Field. Braves pitching held Toronto bats to just two runs over the three-game set (the Jays have now scored three runs over their last four games).
A Closer Look
Romero’s Right to Be Frustrated: Even if Ricky Romero had taken unneeded pot shots at his teammates in criticizing the team’s offence (he did not), the right-handed ace would have been justified. Instead, he merely pointed to an offensive void beyond the core foundation of Jose Bautista and Adam Lind. For the record, hitters not named Lind or Bautista were 10-72 (.139 average) against the Braves, with the sluggers accounting for two of the three RBI by Blue Jay bats in the series. And if anyone was going to vent their frustration, how could it have been anyone other than Romero, who has just a 4-3 record to show for his previous 60 1/3 innings in which he has allowed a mere 15 earned runs (a 2.25 ERA).
The Offensive Scapegoats: Romero was diplomatic enough to refrain from naming names, but that doesn’t mean I’ll show the same restraint. J.P. Arencibia is mired in a 3-27 slump and hasn’t scored or cashed in a run since June 9, leading John Farrell to give Jose Molina a greater share of the catching duties (has Arencibia really hit a wall in June??). Meanwhile, Rajai Davis has one hit to show for his last 13 at-bats and his on-base percentage (.271) has prevented the speedster from truly contributing to the team as a lead-off hitter. All told, line-up regulars Arencibia, Davis, Aaron Hill, Corey Patterson and Jayson Nix are hitting below the Mendoza Line over the past week.
Trade Aftermath: As of right now, it’s difficult to see last season’s Yunel Escobar trade as anything but a landslide victory for the Jays. They have won the trade in a short-term context (Escobar has a .279 average and .354 OBP this season, compared to Alex Gonzalez’s .254 and .290) and appear primed to continue cruising over the long-term. Putting aside the Escobar / Gonzalez central element to the deal (for the record, Escobar is also nearly six years younger than Gonzalez), it’s hard to see much potential for Atlanta to make up the early deficit. They quickly turned around and traded diminutive reliever Tim Collins to Kansas City for Kyle Farnsworth, who underperformed for the Braves before signing with Tampa Bay in the off-season, while Tyler Pastornicky could still develop into a serviceable middle infielder but needs to improve defensively. To top off Toronto’s end of the trade, Jo-Jo Reyes has turned into a critical member of the rotation and remains just 26 years of age.
The Other Guys: It’s hardly groundbreaking to suggest that the Atlanta Braves organization has enjoyed success in the home-grown development of their pitchers, but that hasn’t really been the case for a few years. Well, until now. The club known for benefitting from the pitching exploits of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Steve Avery, Kevin Millwood and others had developed little of note beyond Tommy Hanson for much of the 00’s (Atlanta drafted Adam Wainright in 2000, but he was traded to St. Louis in 2003). However, they now are benefitting from the contributions of Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and lights-out closer Craig Kimbrel, with coveted hurler prospects like Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino and Randall Delgado waiting in the wings. Speaking of Kimbrel, the Braves apparently knew what they were getting in the 23-year old, considering they drafted him in 2007 and again in 2008 after failing to come to terms the first time.
After an apparently much-needed day off, the Jays visit the Albert Pujols-less St. Louis Cardinals. Friday night’s opener sees Brandon Morrow hope to continue his recent momentum against Jake Westbrook
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Written by Ben Fisher