It seems like not too long ago that everyone in Blue Jays land was enamoured with the quick-footed Rajai Davis.
Nowadays, I don’t think there’s too much praise to be handed out for the man who was supposed to be a speed demon at the top of the Toronto order.
As has been well documented, Davis is currently riding a slump somewhere in the realm of 4-for-50.
On the season, he has a slash line of .237/.267/.348.
That is a far cry from his career numbers of .275/.322/.379.
The biggest problem with Rajai, is that he seemingly has a compelte inability to lay off breaking balls on the outside part of the plate. Seriously, I’ve seen peewee players with better plate discipline and I’m not sure how he hasn’t been able to work through these issues, which have seemingly plagued him throughout the entire season.
His strikeout rate this season is an average of one K every 4.8 at bats.
For his career, that number is considerably lower, at a strikeout every 6.3 at bats.
So the question exists, what to do with Davis while he works through this seemingly season-long slump?
The Jays have already dropped him in the order and cut his playing time slightly, which is fine, but how much further should it go? I believe he has enough service time where he could reject a demotion to the minors, and that sending a 30-year-old MLB veteran down to AAA might not be entirely worthwhile or valuable. I also can’t imagine he’d have any sort of trade value at this point.
The thing is, he’s on a two-year contract worth over $5-million per, so releasing him isn’t really an option, although this might have been something the Jays would have done in the past, for even bigger contracts, a la Frank Thomas or BJ Ryan.
That being said, although the Jays aren’t in a pennant race at all this season, it’s tough to watch Davis continue to flail at outside pitches when the likes of Travis Snider (.324/.396/.468 over 188 ABs at AAA), Eric Thames (.343/.417/.608 over 204 ABs at AAA) and even Adam Loewen (.318/.380/.578 over 258 ABs) continue to rake.
Heck, even Dewayne Wise is OPS-ing over .900 in AAA and seemingly seeing the ball pretty well.
Now, guys like
Wise and Loewen aren’t young and may not be part of the team’s long-term future. However, Snider and Thames are both hopefully big parts of the team for years to come. I know Snider is having his swing remade, or whatever. But, whatever changes he has been asked to make, they are seemingly going pretty well.
I know it’s the PCL, but Thames is OPS-ing over 1.000, hitting over .340 and in his brief 47-stint in the majors he hit .286/.362/.381. That is obviously far better than both Davis (and Corey Patterson, for that matter, have been doing).
So how much longer are things allowed to slide before changes are made to the major league roster? How much longer do guys in AAA have to rake before they get their much-deserved extended looks in the major leagues?
Hopefully, sooner rather than later. The surprising thing I see right now, is that the Jays have seven infielders on the active roster right now, and eight if you count DH Juan Rivera. They have three outfielders, and four if you count Juan Rivera (along with some guys who can play outfield if needed, McDonald, McCoy etc.)
So, a lot of times I just leave open-ended questions and ask for feedback, but this time I’m going to just go ahead and suggest what changes I think the team should make.
1) Allow Mike McCoy to earn some more air miles, en route to Las Vegas. Let Jayson Nix head on down to AAA right alongside Mr. McCoy.
2) With those two extra roster spots, promote Eric Thames and Travis Snider. Allow them both a decent amount of playing time as starting LF/DH. Sorry Juan Rivera, less playing time for you, but you can still DH twice a week and play first base once a week.
3) Here’s where it gets tricky, as obviously, Davis and Patterson are presumably the only two guys who can handle centrefield duties, so one of them would have to be in the lineup. (If not for a necessity to have them play centrefield, I’d want the starting OF-ers to be Thames/Snider/Bautista). At any rate, my suggestion is to move Patterson into centre and simply make Rajai Davis one of the world’s best paid runners. Yes, at this point, I think Davis is holding back too many people by being a starter, and at this point he should be used as a backup outfielder who starts twice a week at most, but is used probably every game at some point as a pinch runner.
Thoughts? What would you do?