The 2019 Toronto Blue Jays are, in a word, bad. This is not an indictment of Vladimir Guerrero Jr, who can only do so much. But they’re bad. Very bad.
The Blue Jays have won 12 games since Vlad Jr came to the big leagues. Three of those wins came in the first four days of his career. That’s a lot of losing, all at once.
As a 20 year-old human being, Guerrero is presumably feeling some kind of way about the state of his team. To go out every night and get their brains beat in (they were outscored by 69 runs in May alone, with another -25 on the ledger here in June) cannot feel good. Sometimes it might manifest itself in negative ways, as it perhaps did over the weekend against the Diamondbacks.
Going back over the game, I can make some excuses on Vlad’s behalf here. On the ball he hit off Greinke in the first inning, he did go hard out of the box. He slowed when he reached first base, as the ball got near the seats. As the line drive he struck carried out to right-centre field, it went into the shadows cast across the warning track and parts of the outfield. An open roof, mid-afternoon start for the first time at home? I’ll go ahead and say he could’ve just lost track of that one.
The ground ball in late stages of that blowout, well, that was just a lapse in concentration. Maybe more “not taking a mental inventory of who was at the plate” but there’s not really any excusing it. A little more urgency makes the play, not that it matter much at that stage of the game.
But making plays even when it doesn’t matter is the hallmark of professionalism. It’s something that will need to improve for a player like Guerrero to reach his full potential. It’s something often done in spite of a player’s environment, not because of it.
The 2019 Blue Jays are awful and might only get worse. If you believe this atmosphere is detrimental to player development, you are not alone. I can’t say I know one way or the other, but it seems bad. It seems bad to go out and get smoked every night. It seems like slumped shoulders and dropped heads aren’t good for business. But I am not a performance guru.
It was never going to be easy, to craft quality big leaguers out of so much prospect clay. It’s not straight forward process, that much should be clear. Hopefully adding “lost 100 games a bunch of times” doesn’t add too many kinks in the pipeline.