Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thames, Litsch and Encarnacion: The Good ,The Bad and the Ugly

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If you take a look at the line score from last night's Blue Jays game (5-6-5), as @TheTomHowden said in Twitter, it resembled more of an area code than a line score. It wasn't just ugly, it was fugly line score no doubt.

In a 6-5 loss, there can be a lot of negatives to dwell on, but before I get to the bad and the ugly, let's start things off on a positive and see what good things came out of the game.

The Good: Eric Thames

J.P. Arencibia set the bar for Blue Jays debuts with a 4 for 5 game in his first big league game last year. Although Eric Thames didn't quite match Arencibia's debut, he still came through with a very solid showing. One walk, a hit, an RBI and a run scored; not too shabby at all!

Thames was completely over-matched in his first at bat, but with each subsequent trip to the plate it looked like he got more and more comfortable in the box.

It echoed something he said in an interview with Jerry Howarth yesterday about the pressures of playing in the major leagues: "the lights are a little brighter, there's a bigger scoreboard, but it's still the same game".

It's very difficult to say where things will go from here, but there was a lot of excitement surrounding Eric Thames debut and I can only imagine he will continue to win folks over if he keeps up this pace.

The Bad: Jesse Litsch

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that it took this long for Jesse Litsch to suffer his first true blowup of the season. He's been fairly consistent thus far, albeit Litsch hasn't gone very deep into a game yet, but no one really expected him either.

Remember, Jesse Litsch is still this team's fifth starter, so we shouldn't really expect him to blow away the competition. It's perfectly acceptable to call him perfectly adequate.

It wasn't all Jesse's fault thought as he was the victim of a couple of bad hops, bad throws, and bad plays. I thought he wasn't going to even escape the second inning, yet Litsch returned after back to back 3-run innings and threw two scoreless.

The Ugly: Edwin Encarnacion

If you thought Edwin Encarnacion couldn't do very much damage on the opposite side of the diamond, think again. I was hoping the temporary move to first base would keep Encarnacion from committing errors, but I was sadly mistaken.

He is costing his team a plethora or runs, something which must bug John Farrell to no end. 10 errors on the year now (7 at third base and 3 at first base) has quickly vaulted Edwin Encarnacion as the go-to whipping boy. Breathe easy Juan Rivera, you're good for now.

It's gotten to the point where Edwin Encarnacion is not only a liability on the field, but in the lineup as well. The Blue Jays originally signed him to be the designated hitter, and now that EE can't even contribute with his bat, there's very little reason to keep him around.

Even if Juan Rivera only does an adequate job at first base instead of Edwin Encarnacion, at least Rivera can warrant having his bat in the lineup. With the injuries mounting and EE progressing further and further up the lineup, meaningful at bats have turned into rally-killing plate appearances.

I'll fully admit that I chugged the Kool-Aid Alex Anthopoulos set out earlier this year, touting Edwin Encarnacion as a hitter with 40 home run potential. Now with 123 at bats and still not a single home run, this EE power outage may be here to stay.

4 comments:

  1. King_Cats (NoisyFlowers)May 19, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    In retrospect, the decision to move EE back to third at the end of spring training without giving him enough reps there was pretty unfair to him. He was set up to fail and fail he did. I think it behooves the Jays to give Encarnacion an opportunity as a full time DH. Let him show what he can do when he concentrates exclusively on what he does best. He has to re-build his confidence as an offensive player before worrying about a defensive position. I still think he has the potential to make a more than adequate backup first baseman for Adam Lind down the road but it's just seems like too much to ask righ now of a player who has had all sorts of struggles from day one this year.

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  2. King_Cats, he definitely was shoehorned into the position once the Jays realized Rivera wasn't going to be the everyday right fielder. I figured it would be just like riding a bike for Edwin, but I thought wrong.

    Until Encarnacion starts hitting though, I think we may even see Rivera hold down the fort at first base for a few games until Lind comes back. Damn all these injuries!

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  3. King_Cats (Noisyflowers)May 19, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    Who would have guessed when the season started that an injury to Lind would make us miss both his glove and his bat? The silver lining in all this is that when Lind is healthy, the team doesn't really need a backup 1B short of an in-game injury replacement. Dude has solidified his hold on the position and then some.

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  4. King Cats, I for one didn't expect Lind to perform nearly as well as he has at first base. Figured there would be a lot of growing pains this year, but he's held his own at first base.

    And I was never really a fan of just having him DH anyway, doesn't seem right to have a 27-year old as your full-time DH.

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