It is a great thing that there is only one position, in the Blue Jays batting order, which really has me concerned. I mean, yeah I like Ryan Goins better as a utility infield, especially since we have a couple of regulars I'd like the team to rest frequently, but I think he's a pretty decent second baseman, even if I don't expect him to hit like he did last August. And yeah, we'll talk about the starting rotation and bullpen over the next couple of days.
But I am kind of concerned with left field.
Michael Saunders had an eventful spring. He was traded, in the days just before the spring games started. Then the trade was cancelled. Someone didn't pass their physical. We were told it was one of the minor leaguers included in the trade. I don't buy that, if it was a minor piece, it would have been easy to switch him out for another player. I think it is far more likely that it was Saunders' knee that brought down the trade.
None of us were thrilled with the idea of Jay Bruce playing left, but, at least Bruce has been very healthy. He's played 155 games in 4 of the past 5 seasons. We could see the value in having a guy we knew would be out there every day.
But the trade didn't go through, putting the Jays' front office in the awkward position of pretending that they they really didn't want to dump Michael. They are thrilled to have him as our left fielder. No, no they never truly intended to dump him. And they expect him to be out there for 150 games this year (ok that last one they couldn't bring themselves to say).
Saunders said all the right things:
Saunders said he later told new Jays GM Ross Atkins that it would prove "the best trade he never made"...he entered spring training confident that his knee was in good shape, and said he now is making plays in the outfield and beating out double plays "without it even being in the back of my mind."...."I grew up in Canada. The Jays were my team. I always thought, before I hang up the spikes, how cool it would be to throw on a Jays uniform,"
And he started spring training on a tear, hitting 3 home runs in the first week, as well as making some running catches in the outfield. He worked hard to make us feel much better about the health of his knee. Mike Wilner tweeted that he bet Saunders would hit more than 25 home runs this year (I'd take that one).
I'm trying not to worry about the fact that he hit his last spring home run on March 7th. All in, he had a pretty good spring:
Saunders has never played more than 139 games in a season, he's been over 100 games just twice in a seven year career. And, of course, those seasons came before he had the cartilage removed from his knee.
If it is worth anything, Saunders was having a terrible season for me in OOTP 17. Then I decided to trade him about a month into the season (for a surprisingly large haul, I think the trade AI could use some tweaking) and he's continued to be terrible for his new team.
In the real world, personally, I'd rather have Dalton Pompey in left. I have a feeling we'll see him there before the season is over, but I'd like the Jays to give him 500 at bats and see what he can do. Get him away from thinking that if he has an 0 for he'll be sent back to the minors. For me, it's time to see what he can do with a full year. Let's pretend he's the future. But I do understand that we are paying Saunders and he's going to get the job.
I have no idea what to expect from Saunders. He could play 1 game or 140 and I would just nod my head and say ?I thought that would happen." I did have the thought of doing a April Fool's post saying that Michael was going to have knee replacement surgery and would be out for six weeks, but, then, I'm not sure that won't happen.
I'm kind of curious what we are all expecting from Saunders. Give us your best guess for Saunder's season. At bats, home runs and OPS.