Jeff Blair tells us that the 2015 plan for Jose Reyes is more rest, to DH some and hope that the new turf is easier on his hamstrings.
Yet the Blue Jays have not broached the subject with Reyes; instead, you can expect general manager Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons to tell Reyes in exit interviews that they will give him more off days next season - including some turns as a designated hitter, which Reyes has fought this season.
Everyone likes players that want to play everyday, but then I like a player that listens to his manager. We are paying Jose $66 million over the next three years (with a $22 million option for a fourth), so he's going to have to let the team try to maximize their investment.
The team feels that if Brett Lawrie comes back and if they have a regular, decent, second baseman, the amount of space Reyes will be asked to cover at short will be much less than when they have Juan Francisco and Steve Tolleson on either side of him. Having 3 infielders with poor range is not a recipe for success.
I think that's right, I thought that, when Lawrie was getting to a lot of those ball hit to Reyes' right, Jose lack of range didn't bother me near as much. The problem is that Lawrie has a hard time keeping himself in the lineup. Having Ryan Goins on his other side doesn't hurt, but I hate punting a spot in the batting order. Maybe, with another winter to work at it, we could find a second baseman that can field some and can hit some too.
Hoping that the new turf will be easier on every one is good and all but it will still be turf. Turf will never be as good as grass, but I guess we are stuck with it for the next few years.
I do like the idea of giving guys a day at DH to give them a break off standing on that surface. I still think that guys like Reyes, Bautista, Cabrera, Rasmus, Lawrie would have benefited from being told "you are going to DH once a week." Tell each one, your day is Monday (or which ever day), you will DH on that day. It isn't a debate...this is the way we are doing things this year. I know this pretty much eliminates Adam Lind's role on the team, which is too bad, I like Lind, but I think it would be better for the team.
We have this turf, until we can get rid of it, we have to come up with strategies to deal with the effect of playing on it.
Of course, if we are giving guys a day off a week, we need a better bench than we've had of late. We can't do this and have a 8-man bullpen. And we can't carry useless players on the bench. We have to have players that can full in without hurting our batting order too too much. We haven't had a really good bench in years.
My preferred plan with Reyes would be to tell him he's playing outfield next year. Tell him he's our center fielder next year. He has the speed for the spot, he has the arm. You can sell center field as not so much of a demotion from short. Teams have done this before. Robin Yount is in the Hall of Fame, he played 11 seasons at short and then they asked him to move to center and he played another 9 seasons, and was AL MVP one year. Craig Biggio moved from second base to CF.
A lot of players start their professional career at short and are moved down the defensive spectrum at some point. Reyes' time is coming, he must know that. Thankfully, he isn't Derek Jeter, he can be moved.
With Reyes....I wouldn't want to move him to second, his problem is range and second basemen need about as much range as a shortstop without needing the same arm. Moving his lack of range to the other side of the second base bag doesn't help. Third base? Third is a reaction position, and Reyes doesn't seem to have the quick reactions I'd like from someone playing there.
So, I'd ask him to play CF. It looks like we are going to need one next year. I'm not sold that Anthony Gose is the answer. Gose is hitting .231/.321/.284 this season and his September 'tryout' time isn't going any better, .212/.250/.242.
The trouble is moving Reyes is opening another hole that wouldn't be easy to fill. I'm already hoping for one middle infielder this winter, looking for two might be pushing it. We couldn't fill one middle infield spot last winter, how likely is it that we are going to be able to fill two this winter.
I don't think trading him is the answer either. To move him, the Jays would have to send along some money. Trading him opens that shortstop hole and opens a hole at the top of the order. Reyes (especially healthy) is a very good leadoff man. Finding a shortstop, a second baseman and a leadoff hitter seems like a very tall order for the off-season.
I guess, the Jays plan of resting him more might be the best one for next year, if (and it is a big if) they actually will rest him. The trouble with having a plan to rest a player is that, well, the season starts, and you are in a race. Rarely will a team runaway with a division. You get into a race and you want to field the best possible lineup. At any moment in the race, you'll have guys on the pregame show saying 'this is a must win' (yes, as early as April). As manager you'll start buying into that, thinking "I have to use my best lineup now, because this game is so important, next week I'll rest him." Next week, it will be another 'must win' game and you'll put it off another week.
You need a manager that will stand by his convictions, even with the media saying how stupid he is for not realizing how important this game is and how he is messing up by not playing your best. It's tough to say whether Gibby is that guy or not. He doesn't seem to have a lot of patience with ideas that don't immediately work. And next year will be his third season with the club. He'll be feeling the pressure to win to keep his job.
I'm ok with the plan, if Blair is right that this is the Blue Jays plan. I'm glad they are looking for ways to keep Jose healthy. I am concerned that the plan will be followed. If they can keep him healthy he will be better offensively and defensively. I don't think he'll ever be good defensively, but with his glove and with good players on either side of him, if healthy, we can live with him.
I also hope they find rest time for their other players too.