The Toronto Blue Jays’ hard luck season is winding down and thoughts about next season are already on most Jays fans minds. I thought the Jays would be in the mix for a wild card spot all season, but injuries to almost their entire starting line up, the majority of their starting rotation, a set-up man and their closer…there’s was no chance in hell. What this season has shown is the holes the roster needs to fill to be serious contenders. I’ve blabbed all season about the holes in the rotation, but today I want to focus on the gaping wound at first base.
Adam Lind, the incumbent at first has continued to regress this season. His line of .227 avg, .298 OBP, .394 Slugging, 8 home runs, 27 RBI is dreadful for a power corner infield position. The Jays finally lost patience with the former 35 home run 114 RBI man earlier in the year and demoted him to the minors to see if it would kick start his motor similar to what happened with Edwin Encarnacion. However, the plan has just not panned out how the Jays were hoping and it’s become clear the Jays need to move in another direction at first base.
One solution is to put Edwin Encarnacion at first base. I have no issues with this at all, but who is going to take over at DH for EE? Or share DH and 1B duties with EE? The title of this blog kind of gives away my opinion on these questions. I think Justin Morneau would fit nicely in a 1B/DH role for the Jays. After struggling with injuries the last couple seasons it appears Morneau is starting to regain his form. His stats aren’t eye popping at first glance (.276, 16 HR, 59 RBI), but considering there was talk in the pre-season of him possibly retiring due to health problems, these stats are solid. Having him time share with EE at 1B would help keep him fresh and lessen the chances of injury. A powerful left handed bat behind Bautista/Encarnacion (or between them) is sorely needed and Morneau has shown he still has plenty of pop. Add in the fact that he is Canadian and a former MVP, he would likely become a fan favourite in no time. It would be a neat combo having both corners of the infield being manned by guys from BC…that would have to be a first in history right?
The one drawback of Morneau’s apparent resurgence is it may make it difficult for the Jays to pry him away from the Twins. He is still under contract for one more season, but the Twins don’t appear to be near contention anytime soon and they would likely want to get something for Morneau while they still can. The Twins are always looking for young players to fill their minor league system and the Jays have plenty of young talent in their system to wheel and deal with. It would be somewhat of a risky move by the Jays since Morneau is just a knock in the head away from never playing the game again. However, I think the rewards of a power middle of the order left handed bat outweigh the potential risks.
If you disagree with my Morneau to the Jays thoughts let me know or better yet give me a realistic alternative option you would like to see Jays go after this off season.