The 2019 Toronto Blue Jays season was always going to be about Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
He’s too rare a talent and there’s too little going on elsewhere on this non-competitive roster for it to be any other way. Winning isn’t in the cards for this team, which means watching a franchise cornerstone blossom is the name of the game.
So, it stands to reason that when Vladdy takes a seat it’s a bit of a bummer in Blue Jays land. Without him, not only does the team’s lineup look grisly, but they are simply much less fun to watch.
That said, when he got a routine day off on Monday, the eruption of outrage about it was flat-out ridiculous.
Undoubtedly, there are individuals who travelled to that holiday afternoon game in hopes of seeing Guerrero Jr. only to have those hopes dashed. That sucks for them. It really does, although if your biggest problem on a given day is the baseball man you wanted to see play baseball didn’t play baseball, honestly you’re doing OK.
Ideally, the Blue Jays would have played Guerrero Jr. on Monday for a slightly-larger-than-usual`crowd. But if you read the headlines that night and Tuesday morning you’d think the club reached down the fan base’s throat and pulled its spine out through its mouth.
Realistically, the team’s priority is keeping their most important player healthy. That means the occasional day off. Even though he’s a young, strong 20-year-old there’s just no benefit in running him into the ground. Not that this was in the cards anyway, but it’s worth noting that since 1871 there have been 2207 big league position players 20 or younger. Not one of them played 162 games. That’s a silly fun fact more than a real argument, but it goes to show that days off are inevitable — unless you’re Freddy Galvis.
If anything, Blue Jays fans should be happy to see that their club is making a real effort to keep Vladdy as healthy as possible. In the years to come, there will probably be stretches where he gets plugged into the lineup day and day out no matter what because the team is in the race and they need him that badly. That’s not the case right now.
There’s no doubt Monday’s day off was not ideally timed. However, in the midst of 16 consecutive game days, Guerrero Jr. was going to get a blow at some point.
If Toronto had opted to sit Vladdy the next day, Tuesday, they would be denying those fans the pleasure of seeing him. At a certain point, someone was going to be disappointed. Is the a difference between a game with a crowd of 26 thousand and maybe 18 or 20 really worth the fuss?
This club has not been particularly “fan-friendly” in recent years, and in that context it’s easy to see why moves like this are questioned. Continuing to question what this club does is a worthwhile pursuit, and it’s important to not simply defer to authority and assume the best decisions are always being made.
When the book is closed on this period of Blue Jays history there will be plenty of significant blunders to ruminate on. Sitting a hot rookie for a single game is not going to go down as one of them.
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