Vladamir Guerrero Jr. had one of the most powerful one handed swings seen in spring training for the Jays in several years last Saturday. In case you missed it, here it is:
Clear Power for Vladdy
The ball almost went out of the park and it looked so effortless for the young star who’s so aptly nicknamed Vladdy Jr. His nickname rolls off the tongue far seamlessly as it seems his young baseball career has taken off. On March 16th, Vladdy Jr. will turn just 20 years old and on his birthday he will be forced to realize that will likely not be preparing to play in the Blue Jays home opener on March 26th. For those wondering how good Vladdy Jr. has been since his minor league baseball journey began in 2016, here’s a reference for you.
The reason for this story is not make a case for Guerrero’s placement on the opening roster. Instead, it is to highlight a possible risk for fans of the team to view the team’s management in a negative light and open a discussion for the effect of withholding him from starting with the big club come March 26th. Here are the two biggest issues:
Team’s Portrayal of Vladdy’s Status
The team’s management is trying to portray to fans that Vladdy Jr. is not as ‘ready’ for the majors as it seems. His Spring Training statistics so far may be the first place to start in their justification of his lack of readiness.
Statistics don’t always tell the whole story. There isn’t a statistic in here that shows the physical and star power Vladdy Jr. is capable of applying in Toronto. If only one handed doubles were a stat category! Who knows? With the abundance of new stats in the Moneyball area, we may be headed in that direction! All kidding aside, the crux of the issue stems from the fact that Blue Jays fans are hungry for excitement again and a roster that doesn’t have Vladdy Jr. on it make them less full. That’s not to say the Jays won’t be fielding other exciting young players. The biggest aspect of the issue is whether or not Blue Jays management is lying about Vladdy Jr.’s immediate potential to be a star in order to save money long term.
Furthermore, Fansided writer Paul Taylor urged fans to ignore the team’s general manager Ross Atkins in this article 3 weeks ago. Why would we ignore the person who is puts the team together? Isn’t that what the general manager does? Don’t they make trades, sign players to contracts, manage scouting and hang around the clubhouse all day long? The simple answer to this question is yes, but the job varies drastically depending on the type of ownership and management structure of each team. We can get into that in another story.
The Crux of the Issue
What I really want to do now is get into the Guerrero Jr. issue. Some members of the team-owned media (Rogers product called Sportsnet) are making a case that he is not ready for the major leagues for the start of the regular season too! Between the team’s president, general manager and media network, there’s a concerted effort to persuade the public and its fans that Vladdy Jr. is not ready and will not be part of the major league roster on opening day. Just yesterday, the team released his weight saying Guerrero Jr. needs to lose some to handle playing 3B in the MLB.
In order for him to become a free agent a year later (in 2026), the team needs to hold him in AAA for 15 days. To manipulate his service time, the team’s brass has gone on a media blitz to convince low, medium and high fans, as well as the MLBPA that he is not ready despite the fact that he is one of the best prospects the team has ever had. Oh the questions!
Financial vs. Practical
While it makes sense from a financial perspective to do this, is convincing the public he’s unable to succeed at the major league level worth the other effects? Are there other effects? If so, how can we identify and quantify those effects? We can look at this from a sociological, financial, public relations, game day operations, customer service, and perspective. Let’s save those discussions for class!
In conclusion, the bottom for Blue Jays fans is finding something to be happy to cheer for again. So the biggest question for them is when will he be on the major league roster. I’ll leave this article with a Ross Atkins quote courtesy of Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun:
“There’s no firm timeline on when he arrives and when he plays in Toronto for the first time but we want to make sure he’s the best possible third baseman and the best possible hitter he can be. This is going to be a fun and exciting time for him and a fun and exciting time for the organization.”
I guess only time will tell how all this plays out! Quality over quantity could be the clear outcome.