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Blue Jays Mailbag: Biagini's Future Role, and How to Fix Left Field Mess

Andrew Stoeten answers roster questions about a Blue Jays team that is suddenly hot and almost back to full health.

by Andrew Stoeten
May 29 2017, 8:59pm

Photo by Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Stoeten answers your questions in our Blue Jays Mailbag, which runs weekly at VICE Sports. You can send him questions at stoeten@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter.

The Blue Jays took two out of three from the Texas Rangers, have won five of their last six games, and are now setting their sites on the Cincinnati Reds as they continue to get back to full health and into the playoff race. Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson returned to the club over the weekend. J.A. Happ is next (he's starting Tuesday) and Francisco Liriano shouldn't be far behind.

Are there trades on the horizon? Good trades? Trades to make the 2017 Blue Jays better? For once, we've got a mailbag with questions like that, and not about blowing the whole damn team up! So let's savour this moment of optimism as we take yet another dip into the ol' mailbag...

If you have a Blue Jays question you'd like me to tackle for next week, be sure to send it to stoeten@gmail.com. As always, I have not read any of Griff's answers.

When healthy would you immediately slot Pompey in above Zeke's Thunder in LF? Great nickname, unfortunately not quite great player.
Dave

Well, it's easy to pick on ol' Zeke right now, given that he has just three hits in his last 43 plate appearances. But you're not wrong that he's not been able to build on a very small sample of playoff success last season and turn himself into an everyday player. Shocking, I know!

Could Pompey be an option in left field later this season? Photo by Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Carrera, over 1,123 plate appearances in his career, has slashed .257/.315/.354 (84 wRC+), and this season through 143 PA he's entirely in line with that, at .269/.321/.369 (89 wRC+). He is who we thought he was. If he played good enough defence to be a regular in centre, that would be one thing, but for a corner outfielder the bar should be a bit higher. Zeke just really isn't an everyday calibre player.

As for Pompey, I don't know that he's the solution. I'd love to see the guy get healthy, but his bat is hardly a sure thing to be better at the big league level than Zeke's is. There's certainly a chance that it is, and he made himself a pretty intriguing prospect with some very strong years at the plate in 2014 and 2015, but he's been in the wilderness a while now, mostly because he's battled injuries. His 2016 season in Buffalo was a step in the wrong direction, and then he got hurt again during the WBC. None of this means he can't still become a useful player for the Jays, but I suspect he might be just as miscast in a corner spot as Carrera. And to prove me wrong on that, he needs to play and to hit.

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When Stroman pitches to Maile should the DH be used on Maile?
Tony

I know this is a bit of a silly question, and I don't really have a proper answer to it, beyond just saying, a) if it were possible, I would be all in for that, and b) OH MY GOD IT'S SO AMAZING THAT WE'RE FINALLY NOW TALKING ABOUT STUFF LIKE THIS AND NOT TRADING JOSH DONALDSON AND EVERYTHING ELSE THAT ISN'T TIED DOWN.

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When Happ gets back, do you think Biagini would look good in a Andrew Miller 2016 type role (extended HL shut down innings)?
Phil

Well, with Mike Bolsinger still in the picture, and Aaron Sanchez still out of the picture, I don't think Biagini is through in the rotation just yet. But when Happ, Liriano, and Aaron Sanchez all eventually come back... I still don't think Biagini is the guy for that kind of role.


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I mean, you could ask Biagini to pitch a couple innings from time to time, but he's just not as good as a Miller or a Chris Devenski, in my view. Maybe I'm wrong, or maybe the thinking on this is changing (the Cubs certainly use Mike Montgomery a lot, and he's no Miller or Devenski, either), but I think that sort of role is really only worthwhile if you have a pitcher whose second inning of work is still going to be leaps and bounds better than the next guy down the depth chart. Biagini has been an outstanding find for the Blue Jays, and he has the arsenal and the stamina to be more than a one-inning guy, but I'm not sure he's such an overpowering weapon that he should be given that sort of role.

Would I do it with Roberto Osuna, though? In a heartbeat.

The other thing with Biagini is, with two starting pitchers (Liriano and Marco Estrada) due to hit free agency this winter, if Joe can look capable enough as a starter that the Jays can comfortably slot him into one of those vacancies—which, so far, I think he has—that's going to be huge for this club. So maybe the Jays shouldn't be thinking of pushing his arm too much in a high stress, high-leverage, multi-inning relief role anyway.

There has even been some suggestion of late that, once all their starters are healthy, the Jays might keep him in the rotation and move Liriano to the bullpen in place of their disappointing lefty specialist, JP Howell. It's a little early for that idea, but it's certainly intriguing.

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Who gets sent out to make room for Tuesday's starter?
Danny

One of the relievers with options still left, I'd imagine. So I'd guess Dominic Leone. Meh.

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When do you think Jose Bautista will sell the Texas Rangers?
Chase

I see what you did there.

Watching the Blue Jays beat the Rangers, with Jose Bautista at the centre of things, is amazingly fun, isn't it? And fortunately for Jays fans, it happens a lot!

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With Jays getting back into the playoff race, how do they fix LF? Trade? Pearce/Pompey return to health?
Graham

Left field is really the only spot on the entire roster, save perhaps for backup catcher and a bullpen piece or two, where the Jays could really do something dramatic. I've seen a lot of Jays fans on Twitter mention Andrew McCutchen as their dream fix for the position, and while part of me definitely loves the idea—the former MVP needs out of Pittsburgh, and he certainly can't be this bad, right?—I'm not sure how low Pittsburgh will be willing to sell on him.

I'm also not sure if he truly can't be this bad, either. He's past 200 plate appearances on the season now, and sporting a slash line of .213/.286/.383. Not sure how a team justifies paying anything remotely significant for that, just because he's a "name."

There are certainly other left field possibilities out there, but to be honest, I suspect that the Jays are still hoping to get Steve Pearce back and give him a real look out there. The defence won't be great, but he can be spelled at times—and against some right-handers—by Ezequiel Carrera (who is fine enough as a part-time player), and even though his numbers so far this season have been abysmal, he turned things around a bit in May, hitting four home runs and slashing .276/.333/.759 in 10 games before landing on the DL. Granted, a whole lot of that turnaround came in one game—a 4-for-4 with a pair of home runs in New York on May 2—but they signed him for a reason, and I'd imagine that their hope is that they get a long enough look at him before the trade deadline to know better what they've got, and then they'll assess from there.

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Is it a health hazard to keep the dome closed and expose the fans to a closed system with so much Texas Rangers piss?
Eric

How does the conversation about opening the dome start in earnest? What guidelines are they using? #openthedome
w k

On Sunday the Jays finally, mercifully were able to play a game with the dome open at Rogers Centre. Before that, though, obviously there was some consternation among fans about it. And frankly, I can't blame them—especially having to inhale all of the Texas Rangers piss that Eric is referring to.

This place actually looks OK with the Dome open. Photo by Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

It was announced in April that a massive, two-year retrofit of the roof at Rogers Centre was finally completed. At the time it was said that roof could now be opened and closed in 46 percent less time than was needed before, which should have meant more sunshine for Jays fans. Less time to get the roof closed means less need to be cautious about upcoming storms! So, too, does the fact that better weather-detection equipment was said to have been installed as well. But despite a whole lot of nice weather in Toronto during April and May, things didn't quite work out that way.

Mostly, I think it just so happened that on the nights and days the Jays were playing, bad weather happened to be in the forecast. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't notice a few fans on Twitter wondering if something had gone horribly wrong with the old roof, and that I couldn't help but wonder about it myself.

Because of the retrofit, the guidelines for when the roof can be opened may have changed since Brendan Kennedy wrote an excellent, informative piece about it for the Toronto Star in May 2014. Fortunately, with Sunday's outdoor ballgame, I think most of the fears about too much indoor baseball can finally be put to rest.

Summer is finally here!