With the Indians set to take on the Toronto Blue Jays in a three game series starting tonight, I decided to reach out to Kyle Franzoni, editor of Jays Journal, to get his take on the Blue Jays so far this season. I asked him about the team’s misfortunes, his view on the trades that landed them top level talent this offseason, and a number of other hard hitting questions. He had some great answers. Check out his work over at Jays Journal or follow him on Twitter @bballbigbrother.
Wahoo’s on First: The Blue Jays struggled early this season before turning things around. What are the biggest issues and do you think their problems are behind them?
Kyle Franzoni: The biggest issue is/was the starting pitching, and that remains a problem today. The Jays starters have been inconsistent at best and the health of the rotations has forced the team to use 13 different starting pitchers to this point. The team really needs to make a move at the deadline to shore up the rotation, even if it means adding a qualified arm for 2014. The problem is the payroll may not allow that to happen.
Wahoo’s on First: Jose Bautista is having a good year but not a typical Jose Bautista kind of year. Is it just the fact that that level of performance wasn’t sustainable or is his status as the premier power hitter in baseball nearing an end?
Kyle Franzoni: Bautista has had some stretched where he’s looked great and stretches where he’s struggled. He’s still a force with the bat, but he’s not the .300 hitter he was in 2011. I think what we have now is the Jose Bautista we’re going to have going forward, which is a .260 hitter with 35-40 home runs, and 100+ RBI. I’ll take that.
Wahoo’s on First: What’s going on with Brett Lawrie? He was supposed to be this can’t miss prospect and right now it seems like he’s missing more than he’s hitting.
Kyle Franzoni: Brett Lawrie’s biggest issue is his fire. He pushes so hard to achieve, that he fails, if that makes sense. It has caused some mechanical issues with his swing, which the Jays are working on as he’s rehabbing in the minors now. That said, he’s got to stay on the field in order to develop a groove, so health issues have held him back as well. I think he needs another season before we can write him off.
Wahoo’s on First: What are you’re thoughts on the blockbuster trades that brought you R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and Josh Johnson now that half a season has been played? Worth it, or would you undo those trades if you could?
Kyle Franzoni: The Marlins trade is the toughest one for me to grade. We missed Reyes due to a freak ankle injury for nearly 3 months and Johnson has dealt with his own injury issues (this is a recurring theme, huh?). Both deals needed to be made, but would I make them again? I can’t really say I wouldn’t.
Wahoo’s on First: Do you think the Blue Jays will make any moves before the trade deadline or will they roll with what they have?
Kyle Franzoni: I’d like to see them add a starting pitcher, although they aren’t likely to grab a Matt Garza rental-type. This is a team that is barely hanging on in 2013, so any moves may need to be made to improve next year’s club, not this edition. That puts a guy like Jake Peavy into play for me, but there’s nothing to suggest that the Jays are in on any deals yet.
Wahoo’s on First: What do you think happens the next three days in this series?
Kyle Franzoni: I’d like to say the Blue Jays start putting together series wins at this stage, something they need to do if they have any aspirations in 2013. That means taking at least 2 of 3 against Cleveland. That also means that Josh Johnson, Esmil Rogers, and Mark Buehrle pitch like they’re supposed to. Can it be done? Certainly, the Blue Jays showed that they can play with the best of them during their 11-game win streak. Is this that same Blue Jays team? That’s the real question.