By: Will Burchfield
A little past 7:00 tonight in downtown Detroit, Toronto Blue Jays’ second baseman Devon Travis will take the field for the fifth consecutive game, and 11 of the past 12 overall. Meanwhile, in Pawtucket, R.I., centerfielder Anthony Gose will be sitting on the bench for the Toledo Mud Hens.READ MORE: Hispanic Heritage Month: Mexicantown Through Artist Eyes
The two players are mentioned in conjunction, of course, because they were involved in a one-for-one swap in November 2014. Dealing from a position of depth, the Tigers sent Travis to Toronto in exchange for Gose, hoping to find their centerfielder of the future.
It wasn’t exactly an all-in move for either team. Both Travis and Gose were question marks moving forward, players who were just as likely to sputter out in the minor leagues as strike stardom in the bigs. But it was a gamble nonetheless, a wager just like those placed down the street at the Motor City Casino.
And the Tigers, it must be said, came up empty.
Gose was serviceable in his first season in Detroit in 2015, offering just a touch more than replacement-level production. Over 140 games, he hit .254, stole 23 bases and played a strong centerfield. But when the team went out and acquired Cameron Maybin in the offseason, Gose’s future in Detroit appeared in jeopardy.
Sure enough, his slow start to the season coupled with Maybin’s recovery resulted in a mid-May demotion. He was hitting just .209 at the time, with an unsightly 38 strikeouts in 91 at-bats.
Things have only gotten worse in Triple-A, where Gose owns a .195 average with 35 strikeouts through 77 at-bats. And with the recent promotion of highly-touted prospect Jacoby Jones to Toledo, reports suggest that Gose has been relegated to the fourth outfielder’s role for the Mud Hens.READ MORE: United Airlines Facing Record $1.9 Million Fine For Extended Delays
“It’s not punitive,” Brad Ausmus clarified before his team’s Tuesday night game against Toronto. “Jacoby Jones going up is more about the development of Jacoby Jones. It has nothing to do with Anthony Gose.”
Still, the fact remains that Gose is falling fast on the organization’s outfield ladder. One could say, in fact, that he hasn’t been this far from the Major Leagues since playing Double-A ball in 2011. And though Gose can’t be faulted for Jones’ rise, he clearly hasn’t done enough to protect his spot in the lineup.
For Ausmus, the reservation regarding Gose’s immediate future with the Tigers begins and ends with his bat.
“There’s no question that he can play centerfield, but you want him to hit, you want him to get on base and use his legs,” Ausmus said.
And Gose can still do all that from the designated hitter position, so he doesn’t figure to lose many at-bats. But the fact that he isn’t here, producing for the big-league team in Detroit, is disappointing, Ausmus allowed.
Meanwhile, Travis has become the everyday second baseman for the Blue Jays, providing slick defense and a pesky bat in the bottom third of a potent lineup. He has yet to find his groove from a year ago, when he posted a .304 average through 62 games, but expect Travis to prove a point before this series ends.
“I think when you’re involved in a trade, you always want to stick it to [your old team] a little bit,” Ausmus said. “The trades I’ve been involved in, I’ve always wanted to have a little better game against the team that traded me away to say, ‘Hey, you made a mistake.’”MORE NEWS: Ford Recalls Mustang Mach-E For Windshield, Sunroof Issues