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If I Was Gibby – Vol. 1

Gibbons2016_01Everyone loves to play manager at home. “Why didn’t he send the runner there?! He’s bringing in THIS guy from the pen? It should be THAT guy?! Drop down a bunt!!”

Well in this new segment, I’m going to pretend I am Gibby. When there’s an important roster decision to be made, I’ll put myself in the manager’s shoes.

Josh Donaldson is nearing a return. The club tweeted out on Wednesday that he’ll be joining the team in Cleveland, “likely to be activated”. Whether that’s for game one or two of the doubleheader remains to be seen. The former MVP has played in two rehab games for Dunedin, and only played in the field once, on Tuesday. But he also went 2-for-2 with a walk in that game, so he must feel he’s ready at the plate. Donaldson’s activation will trigger a slew of roster moves and line-up decisions. Some will be simple, others not so much. But if I was in charge, I’d do this.  

Activate Donaldson, demote Gift Ngope

This still leaves the team with a 3-man bench/8-man bullpen configuration, which I don’t favour. But given the doubleheader on Thursday, the ‘pen will likely be taxed, and I’m in favour of having some flexibility down there for a couple of days. Ngope gets sent back to Buffalo, JD starts every day at third, while Diaz, Gurriel and Solarte fight for playing time at the middle infield positions. Russ Martin remains the backup infielder for a couple of days until … 

Recall Devon Travis, option Carols Ramirez

Travis’ mandatory 10 days in the minors takes him to May 8, so he can return at some point during the series at home against the Seattle Mariners. That will restore the balance of a 3-man bench. The offensive form of Lourdes Gurriel and Aledmys Diaz will dictate who gets the bulk of the playing time at shortstop. Travis will resume his two-on, one-off schedule again, with Solarte playing when he needs a rest.

Where Does Donaldson Hit?

Despite getting a lot of time third in the order in spring training (behind Granderson and Travis), he opened the season in his familiar no. 2 spot in the lineup. Teoscar Hernandez has hit second in every game since Donaldson hit the DL, so why mess with a good thing? Continue the Granderson/Pearce platoon in the leadoff spot (assuming Pearce has fully recovered from the ribcage strain that’s cost him two games), then follow with Hernandez-Donaldson-Smoak. This lengthens the lineup considerably. I would line it up like this: 

Vs RHP

  1. Granderson LF
  2. Hernandez RF
  3. Donaldson 3B
  4. Smoak 1B
  5. Solarte DH
  6. Pillar CF
  7. Gurriel SS
  8. Martin C
  9. Travis 2B

Bench: Maile C (RH), Morales DH (S), Diaz SS (R), Pearce 1B/OF (R)

Morales’ struggles against right-handed pitching open the door for Solarte to get regular at-bats in the DH spot. When Travis needs a day off, he can slide into that spot at second base, and Morales or Pearce can DH, or just insert Diaz and move Gurriel across the bag. The options are plentiful.

Vs LHP

  1. Pearce LF
  2. Hernandez RF
  3. Donaldson 3B
  4. Smoak 1B
  5. Pillar CF
  6. Morales DH
  7. Gurriel SS
  8. Martin C
  9. Travis 2B

Bench: Maile C (RH), Solarte IF (S), Granderson OF (L), Diaz SS (R)

Now this whole plan is contingent on Travis having some success at Triple-A. Through his first two games with Buffalo, he was just 1-for-9. But if he rips off a good weekend, mixing in some extra-base hits, I’d be comfortable returning him to the big leagues. The Jays have managed to keep themselves in the playoff mix through April without a healthy Donaldson or a productive Travis, something not many people would have believed could be true. But they may need both players to be involved if they hope to maintain this form through May.

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