I’ve had enough of the Ezequiel Carrera defensive experience. Watching bad routes, mistimed jumps, empty dives, and the throw rarely going to the correct base grows old pretty fast.
After another awful night in the field on Tuesday, John Gibbons gave Carrera the day off on Wednesday and penciled Chris Coghlan into the left field slot. It did not go well. Coghlan turned multiple fly balls into an adventure including one off the bat of Rajai Davis that went from an out to a triple (and nearly an inside the park home run before Pillar came in to back up the play).
The defensive metrics are as ugly as the eye test. Carrera checks in with -8 Defensive Run Saved while Coghlan registers with -2 in just eight games in left field.
Adding more fuel to the fire is the fact that the Jays are getting just a .591 OPS from the left field position this season in 240 plate appearances. Granted, part of the reason for this is Carrera just happened to gather a higher concentration of his hits in the eight games he’s played in right field, but even if he hit neutrally across both positions, his overall season line isn’t enough to justify his atrocious defense on a daily basis.
When Carrera’s limited to a bench role, he’s a tolerable 25th man on the roster, but play him everyday and the warts really start to show.
So now the question becomes what can the Jays do about it. They clearly need to upgrade this position to the point where it’s not hemorrhaging production. Normally the solution to this type of issue would require looking at trade options, but in this case, the Jays actually have a bunch of in house options. (They just can’t use them right away.)
1) Steve Pearce
Remember him? Pearce has been missing from the lineup for nearly a month now with a right calf strain. He did make it into 23 games in left field before going on the shelf, but he only posted a .642 OPS in those games. However, a .213 BABIP in the games he played at the position and his career track record suggest he’d be a better option than Carrera. Unfortunately there’s no immediate timetable for his return right now.
2) Dalton Pompey
In many ways, this is the most attractive option because even if Pompey can’t hit, his defense and speed would likely nail down the position and give the Jays a tool set they’re lacking with most of their everyday players.
The problem here however is once again injury. Pompey had to leave a World Baseball Classic match up in March with a concussion and didn’t appear in another baseball game for two months. Things finally appeared headed in the right direction when he played four games in Dunedin and then made a start in Buffalo, but he left his one and only Bisons’ start with a leg injury, and his status is once again up in the air.
Like Pearce, he’s a better option than what the Jays have now, but he’s not immediately available.
3) Anthony Alford
Alford represents the future of the Toronto outfield. He got off to an incredible start in Double-A New Hampshire and was called up to the big club in mid May when injuries were spreading like the bubonic plague across the roster. After just four games, he too fell victim to the chaos.
Alford broke his hamate bone and will be out until at least July. Once again, he’s a more intriguing option than what the Jays have in left field right now, but an option that won’t be immediately available.
Damn this theme stinks!
4) Dwight Smith Jr.
Ah, finally someone who’s not hurt. Smith is having the best season of his minor league career in Triple-A Buffalo. He’s got a 127 wRC+ and would likely be a better defensive option in left field than anyone else the Jays have for that position right now.
I don’t think he’s the long term solution, but he certainly seems like the best they can do for the next handful of games while we wait for some guys to come off the DL. Perhaps the Jays want him working on certain things in Triple-A before allowing him to face Major League pitching on a regular basis, but left field is such a mess at the moment that the front office really needs to consider using him until reinforcements arrive.
The most frustrating part of this from a fan’s perspective is that so much of it weighs on injuries. There’s four in house options, but only one of them are immediately available. We don’t know exactly how close Pearce and Pompey are to returning, and this is complicated even more by the fact that the Jays are now in a stretch where they have three days off in an eight day stretch. (They don’t play today, they don’t don’t play next Monday, and they don’t play next Thursday.)
Perhaps the club feels that either Pearce or Pompey will be close once another week rolls off the calendar, and if that’s the case, trying to survive five more games against Seattle and Tampa with Carrera doesn’t seem as dreadful of an option if they would rather have Smith keep developing at Triple-A.
It’s clear that the current left field situation is unacceptable, but with so many options potentially coming off the DL (and in Smith’s case potentially coming up from Buffalo), it’s hard to justify doing anything drastic from outside the organization. The Jays could actually have a surplus of corner outfield options by August if no new injuries pop up among these players.
But for now, there’s really only two realistic options, and despite the title of this article, one of them is do nothing and wait. Let’s have a community vote:
What should the Jays do with their left field situation over the next handful of games?
This poll is closed
Call up Smith and see if he’s an improvement. (They’ve got enough off days here that they don’t need that extra man in the bullpen for now.)
Nothing. (Ride with Carrera and Coghlan until Pearce or Pompey come off the DL.)
A timetable is now beginning to emerge for Steve Pearce. he’s beginning a rehab assignment tonight for Double-A New Hampshire.
Toronto Blue Jays OF Steve Pearce will suit up for N.H. tonight on an MLB rehab assignment. First pitch 6:35! pic.twitter.com/kYxJx2iBQ0— NH Fisher Cats (@FisherCats) June 8, 2017