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A restless fan base wants change to address an anemic Blue Jays lineup



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Blue Jays die-hards are growing impatient, knowing how difficult it is watching a team consistently stubbing its toes when entering the batter’s box.

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Change is being demanded, whether it’s engineering a trade (unlikely, given the baseball calendar), re-arranging the lineup (which may or not do anything to jump-start a moribund offence), or parting ways with the GM and manager, options that are completely off the table — at least for now.

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What to make of a Jays team sitting at 15-17 and scheduled to begin a three-game series in Washington on Friday following an off-day Thursday is the topic being discussed within and outside the franchise.

Listening to John Schneider following yet another disastrous offensive outing in the series finale against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday at the Rogers Centre, it’s just a matter of time before the team’s dormant bats show signs of life. Baseball’s marathon schedule is monotonous at the best of times, but with the Jays far from playing their best, so too are the manager’s words.

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In fairness, his hands are somewhat tied given a roster Ross Atkins felt could make the jump from last year’s underwhelming offence once internal improvement was reached. It has yet to be achieved.

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As long as the team’s pitching remains healthy, there shouldn’t be any issue knowing the starter on any particular night is more than capable of going deep into games. And the days of a porous bullpen blowing leads is no longer an issue.

The question remains the Jaysoffe nce. The answer, at least a realistic one, is pretty elusive.

Shaking things up begins at the top of the order, where the likes of George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Bo Bichette have not delivered as they have been expected to.

A year ago, Schneider did move Whit Merrifield into the leadoff spot when the Jays returned home from a trip out west, during which the versatile veteran raked. Mind you, it was short-lived, but it did provide a boost for a struggling lineup at the time.

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Davis Schneider’s callup last season with the Jays about to begin a weekend set at Fenway Park also lifted the team. Inserting he and his .325 on-base percentage into Springer’s leadoff slot in the lineup should at least be contemplated.

Daulton Varsho, though he has cooled down of late — recording only one hit during Toronto’s just completed 2-4 homestand — looms as a potential candidate to move up in the order because he can at least manufacture different ways to reach base.

Danny Jansen getting more at-bats by moving him up in the order is another option.

Whatever the Jays have in mind, there aren’t many viable options on the table to help turn this offence around.

When a manager is at a loss for words and can summon only observations that don’t inspire much confidence, it’s easy to understand why so many followers of the team are growing disenchanted, why so many are crying out for change. Fans don’t want to hear it, but the fact remains the Blue Jays, offensively speaking, are in a holding pattern until their stars begin to live up to the hype.

Until that happens, expect more of the same, including mundane post-game remarks by the skipper.

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“They’re (fans) going to get bored of me saying the same thing,” Schneider said following Wednesday’s 6-1 loss to the Royals.“It’s going to come. It will. It’s May 1. It will come. That’s what I can say to them and I would hope that our fans trust the fact that we have really good players (who) understand they’re not performing up to their expectations.

“And I hope they know that we will be better.”

The when and how remain the big unknowns.

It’s rather difficult to resort to playing small ball when there’s no one on base. Even when someone gets on base and advances into scoring position, there’s no assurance of a hitter knocking in a run.

The Jays are at 15-17, a record that could be viewed from the lens of over-achievement when looking at the 3.5 runs the offence has averaged this season. In 18 of the team’s first 32 games, the offence has produced three runs or fewer. Twice they have been shut out, four times they have scored one run, including back-to-back home losses to the Royals, who went a combined 4-2 in taking two series this season.

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When the Jays began their home set against K.C., on Monday, they scored six times in a one-run win. The previous time the Jays produced six runs came on April 6 in a 9-8 loss to the host New York Yankees.

A year ago, the Jays were a middle-of-the-road offence that averaged 4.6 runs per game, 15th in a 30-team league. Heading into Washington, the Jays rank slightly higher than only the Chicago White Sox and Oakland A’s. The 6-25 Chisox are on pace to be the single worst team in modern baseball history while A’s ownership is in the midst of moving to Sacramento before setting up permanent shop in Las Vegas.

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As for the Jays, the roots of their ineffective offence can be traced to last season, which ended in absolute misery in the wild-card round versus the host Minnesota Twins. In many ways, nothing has really changed, even with fans pining for change.

“We’ll get better,” manager John Schneider said late Wednesday afternoon. “We’re confident that we will.”

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