Development doesn’t stop the second you reach the big leagues

Well, it’s been quite the first month for Blue Jays fans, eh?
There’s been some good – hello Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson! – there’s been some bad – back to the van with you, Daniel Norris! – and there’s been some ugly – Aaron Sanchez walking approximately 418 batters en route to what was at the time his best start in the majors, comes to mind.
And because the team hasn’t come out and run away with the division some are already calling for changes. Because, as what happens to the vast majority of young players, a few guys have been optioned down to AAA, some are calling for a rebuild. Because the pitching has been more or less atrocious many fans have already given up.
They’re acting as if this is the final product. That this is the team Alex Anthopoulos constructed and it’s not nearly good enough.
And that’s ridiculous.
The nice thing about this year’s Toronto Blue Jays is that there are essentially two types of players on the team: the totally established guys and the totally raw guys. For every Bautista there’s a Castro. For every Encarnacion there’s a Sanchez.
Why is that nice? Well, because a month, two or even three months into the season you can still feel comfortable with the established and you can still dream on the raw.
Take, for instance, Encarnacion. He’s had quite a poor start to the season, batting to a 75 wRC+ heading into tonight’s contest. But after three consecutive years of posting a wRC+ of 144 or better, is anyone really concerned with him? The answer, at least it should be, is no.
Now, take for instance, Dalton Pompey. At the major league level he batted to a 67 wRC+ so far this year. Worse than EE, for sure, but not that much worse. And Pompey played centre field mostly.
The reason we’re worried about Pompey and not worried about Encarnacion is simple: the latter has a track record.
Where the line of reasoning gets off track, though, is that we forgive EE for having a slow start but completely forget that over the entirety of last season Pompey excelled at every single level. Pompey hasn’t built up enough – goodwill? – with the fan base to allow for a slow start. Encarnacion has a track record at the major league level, sure, but Pompey has a track record in professional baseball. It should count for something.
Now the young centre fielder has been sent down to Buffalo. What you’ll notice, though, is that now that he’s been a major league starter, getting sent down is more about “getting him right” as they’re saying. The “development” aspect of his professional career is considered over.
But that’s not true. All of these young players are continuing to develop, no matter where they’re playing. Just because Aaron Sanchez remains in the Toronto rotation doesn’t mean that this is The Aaron Sanchez. He’s still developing. What he is in August should be better than what he is now. The same goes for Pompey, Norris, Castro, Osuna, Travis and the rest, no matter at what level the’re playing. They should all be better in August, than they are now.
And that’s why we, as Jays fans, should be excited about the first month of the season. By and large, the young guys haven’t taken the world by storm. Travis has played unbelievable, and Roberto Osuna has continued to impress. But Sanchez, Norris, Pompey and even Drew Hutchison have, to certain degrees, disappointed.
Sure, they aren’t all going to stick. Simply doesn’t happen that way. But there’s enough talent and youth there to expect the team as a whole to be better three months from now than they are now.
That’s all I’m asking for, and it’s all anyone else should be asking for.
Stick around long enough for the team to click.