Unlike Blue Jays’ General Manager Alex Anthopoulos, John Gibbons reads like an open book. Ask him a straight question and you’re bound to get a straight answer back from Gibby.
Knowing this all too well, Bob McCown had John Gibbons on PrimeTime Sports yesterday and had quite frankly a very blunt and straight-forward discussion with the Blue Jays’ manager. They discussed many things, among them being the centre field job.
McCown didn’t waste any time and just flat-out asked Gibbons point-blank who would begin the season as the Blue Jays starting fielder, and Gibbons offered an interesting response:
“If the season were to start tomorrow with what we have today, from what we saw last year, I’d love to see Pompey out there. It was a short audition, but I tell you what, he played very good and he’s got a chance to be a hell of a player”.
Gibbons referenced Dalton Pompey’s short stint with the Blue Jays in 2014, albeit just 17 games in the month of September. But if the coaching staff feels like he could win the position outright for Opening Day 2015, that’s a fascinating development.
Of course, it all hinges on whether the Blue Jays either sign or trade for another centre fielder, but it’s not anticipated they will. The real debate is whether Dalton Pompey or Anthony Gose will garner the title of Opening Day centre fielder.
Again, it’s an extremely small sample size, but I have to agree with John Gibbons; unless Dalton Pompey has an absolutely horrible Spring Training and Anthony Gose hits the ground running, the job should be Pompey’s to lose.
Given his body of work, Anthony Gose has had ample time to live up his billing as the “centre fielder of the future”. And with 202 career games under his belt during the past three seasons, I’m afraid to say it, but I think that’s the best we’ll see from Gose at this point.
There’s no denying the upside of Dalton Pompey. His outfield defense appears to be just as good as Gose’s, Pompey possesses tremendous speed, and Pompey even edges out Gose is his potential to get on base and hit.
However, the Blue Jays might be wary of suddenly anointing Dalton Pompey as the 2015 Opening Day centre fielder because they ran into the very same problem last year with Ryan Goins.
He also impressed during a short stretch late in the season in late August and September of 2013. Although the Blue Jays fully acknowledged Goins’ bat needed some work, they were willing to sacrifice the offense for his stellar defense.
Four weeks into the 2014 season, the Blue Jays abandoned that plan altogether and sent Ryan Goins back to the minors.
The difference with the centre fielder’s job being that expectations for that position are very low. The Blue Jays had seven players play centre field this past season, with Colby Rasmus and Anthony Gose receiving the bulk of the starts.
The Blue Jays’ centre fielders combined to hit .213/.275/.361 in 2014, which ranked second last among all 30 teams in Major League Baseball. Admittedly, the bar is extremely low for Dalton Pompey to surpass.
Pompey wouldn’t be blocking anybody else in the organization from taking the centre field position for the Blue Jays. Since he’s one of the club’s outfielders of the future, Pompey would presumably be given a good amount of rope … just as Anthony Gose was given.
But if there was ever a time to give an opportunity to a player with 17 big league games under his belt … it’s right now.
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