Monday, 28 May 2012

Under the Bus

I think we can all admit that it has not been an easy week to be a Blue Jays fan. Mike Wilner called it the "Road Trip from Hell." While I tend to take issue with most things Wilner says, I think we can all agree with him here. It wasn't pretty. Two losses in extras prove that the Blue Jays did their best, but it just wasn't good enough. The starting pitchers have taken a beating. Walks are increasing exponentially and Brendan Morrow, coming over his best start, promptly had his worst and was taken out after just 2/3 of inning of work. The bullpen was stretched beyond belief, to the point that the Jays had to send down Yan Gomes and heralded Japanese whiz-man (because at 33 he is hardly a whiz-kid) Ryota Igarashi, who did not exactly live up to his hype, in order to bring up more arms for the tired and overstretched bullpen. While Jesse Chavez's strike outs seemed like a breath of fresh air, i'm not so certain that big league hitters won't pick up his hard throwing fast ball approach, real quick.

The Blue Jays have also been hit with a series of injuries. Encarnacion is having back trouble after being forced into the first base role after the demotion of Lind, Johnson is out with a hamstring and most recently, Escobar was removed from Sunday's game with a groin injury. He is listed as day to day. This is the issue I want to discuss. I read about Escobar's injury on the official Blue Jays website this morning and scrolled down to read the comments and what did I discover? Several fans who seem more than willing to throw Escobar under the bus in order to get Hechavarria to the big leagues:

"Remember what happened with Cal Ripken ..... He never relinquished the position after being called up as an injury replacement. Could happen again. Go Hecht!"

Adeiny Hecharvarria has long been pegged as one of the Jays most salivating prospects. A true defensive Whiz-Kid. Everyone worried about his batting, but then he moved to Triple A, and so far in 2012, he's batting .314. Everyone seems to conveniently forget about the Pacific Coast leagues inflated batting averages (if you need evidence, let's take a look at David Cooper, who while certainly has potential is very unlikely to bat .350 in the big leagues).

Time and time again, Jays fan have been left unsatisfied with big prospects. Prospects are just that. Prospects. They need time, they will likely struggle. Everyone can admit that Eric Thames, Brett Lawrie and Drabek are not exactly having the seasons we hoped they would. So why do Jays fans seem particularly eager to throw a proven baseball short stop with a .975 fielding percentage and a .287 batting average with a great contract away in order to bring up an unproven minor leaguer who is, let's face it, fairly similar? Yunel Escobar has been plagued by fans and the media with tales of his bad attitude and ego. His over enthusiastic style seems to grate people. He loves to argue with umps if a call dosen't go his way. Has the opinion of those in Atlanta followed him to Toronto?

Is there something wrong with a player who loves to play the game? Who claps his hands when he gets a hit, who argues when he thinks he's right? Who will put his field percentage on the line in order to make a difficult out (even if he dosen't make it)? I'll admit, Yunel Escobar is my favorite Jay. And judging by the jerseys, I see at games, i'm not alone. For me Escobar is a throw back to the superstitious players of old. Every game he jogs out to third and rubs dirt on the same spot on his pants, he dosen't step on the foul lines, his routine is identical every time up at bat. He loves his secret hand shakes and when he gets a hit, he smiles. Nobody knows too much about him, i've only ever heard  Escobar say two sentences in English, and accordingly, he certainly dosen't get too much face time with the Toronto press. We are left with his play on the field, and frankly, that should be enough.

The Jays need to give Hechavarria a chance. But not at the expense of Escobar. And certainly, a day to day groin injury should not have fans calling for him to lose his spot on the team. His play and his attitude have done nothing to deserve that. And Jays fans should keep that in mind.