Though I think there is something to the need for more veterans in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse to which Rosenthal speaks, I can’t get behind the notion that intangibles should be given great consideration in the offseason’s free agent and trade acquisitions.
The presence of Omar Vizquel, the most distinguished MLB veteran since Jamie Moyer was 47, didn’t prevent fellow Latin shortstop Yunel Escobar from hitting the field with a message in his eye black that would become a black mark on the team. I’m not sure what would have prevented Yunel Escobar from taking the field with a homophobic slur on his face but stacking your clubhouse with veterans at the expense of talent in order to do so would not be an efficient use of the Blue Jays’ limited resources.
The old boys’ veteran club that is/was the St. Louis Cardinals didn’t seem to help Colby Rasmus with his confidence before being credited as the root cause of his flight to Toronto. Colby seems like a solitary character that wouldn’t respond well to a veteran barking in his ear about the right way to be confident in himself. Though he’s shown flashes of greatness in his time with both the Cardinals and Jays, Rasmus may not ever become a consistently above-average Major Leaguer and acquiring veterans for the purpose of guiding a loner seems counter-intuitive. Either Colby will put it all together on his own or Anthony Gose will force the Jays to move him. Considering the price the Jays paid, it wouldn’t be the end of the world to part with him when he hits free agency in a few years or take what they can before then.
In Arencibia’s case, if he didn’t solve his problems with intangibles under the tutelage of perennial leaders on the intangibles leaderboards, Jose Molina and Jeff Mathis, then who might the Jays try next? Bring Pudge out of retirement? Ask Yogi Berra to spurn the Yankees after the short time they’ve been together to become a mentor to JP? If the team were so concerned with JP’s makeup problems then perhaps it’d be easier to just trade him and replace him with the organization’s top prospect who is by all reports already Major League-ready.
Finally, Brett Lawrie is Brett Lawrie. I doubt there are many baseball players on the planet that could shake his (over)confidence in himself and show him the ‘right’ way. The good news is that Brett obviously loves winning and as he gets older, he should mature as he sees his mental errors costing the team important wins. He’s not stupid; he’s just had his tires pumped up a little too much. Having someone as passionate as him in the lineup will cost us when he runs into an out or forces a throw but despite his outward denials of responsibility in post-game interviews, I truly believe he’s going home at night knowing he let the team down.
How should the Jays address the lack of maturity from their youthful core? Acquire players with the talent to win meaningful games. Players will mature with the pressure of meaningful baseball beyond May and those who are unable aren’t irreplaceable. Their replacements are already ready and waiting.