Toronto Blue Jays Update
Why are the Toronto Blue Jays so bad? It has been eating at the Toronto sports fan’s psyche the entire season. After “winning” the off season by acquiring a lot of high priced talent, and adding what were supposedly star players and now fielding $120+ million of payroll, the Jays are the same as they were last season – mediocre. Mediocre won’t cut it in the Ultra competitive American league east. Notwithstanding the miraculous 11 game win streak, the Jays have been abysmal this season. Lets look at why.
1. Horrendous Starting Pitching:
Everyone was touting the jays rotation as one of “the best in baseball”. What a joke. The Tampa Bay Rays, even after trading co – ace James Shields to the Royals, still have a WAY better rotation. The acquisitions of Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, and Mark Buerhle, when added to Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow, were supposed to catapult this team to the top of the American League. So, what has happened? Ricky Romero can’t even crack the big league roster. His control has disappeared. Brandon Morrow, who people thought would emerge as a staff ace, has emerged as the ace of the Disabled List. The guy is perennially injured, and when healthy, has been inconsistent. Maybe the Mariners knew what they were trading away?
The purported “Ace” of the staff, R.A. Dickey, will likely hit 20 losses this year. A far cry from the 20+ wins he accumulated last season for the cellar dwelling Mets. When was the last time he pitched a meaningful game for a team that needed a win? I’d suggest that it was for team USA in the World Baseball classic, and he got spanked around leading to a USA loss. Dickey’s claim to fame is that he appears to be the Ace on underachieving teams. That sounds familiar, right Jays fans? The guy has been giving up an abundance of ill timed home runs (not that there is ever a good time to surrender a home run). The reality is that he is an innings eater, and a leader for the pitching staff, but in the mighty AL East, he’s a #4 or #5 starter AT BEST. Lets hope Travis D’Arnaud and and Syndergaard don’t become the next Buster Posey – Matt Cain combination, or the Mets will be winning the World Series well before the Jays can even qualify for the playoffs.
Josh Johnson, he of the 1 win, has probably been the Jays’ biggest disappointment thus far. He can’t stay healthy. When he has, he has a 5.16 ERA. Not what the Jays expected. I will credit Anthopoulos for trying. He thought he was bringing in two Ace caliber pitchers (Dickey & Johnson) and a proven innings eater in Mark Buehrle, but in reality, he brought in two batting practice pitchers for the AL East to feast off. Buerhle has probably been the best of the three, even though he’ll likely never be more than a .500 pitcher who, to his credit, does eat 200 innings a year, while sporting a 4.00+ ERA. With enough offense, he’d win more. This Jays team just can’t hit in the clutch.
2. NO CLUTCH HITTING, POOR DEFENSE
That brings us to another problem. The offense. Who would have thought we’d be saying that a Jays team featuring the likes of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Reyes would struggle to score. I’d suggest that if you remove those three, the Jays have next to nothing when it comes to offense. Reyes is always hurt, and has missed significant time already this season, but when he’s in the lineup, he’s an all star. Nothing to complain about with him, other than seeing him slow down on balls he MAY be able to play. Regardless of what people said in the off season, the guy is NOT a gold glove short stop. He’s a middle of the pack defensive shortstop, but his offensive contributions outweigh any gripes with his glove. Jose Bautista isn’t setting the world on fire, but he’s hitting for power and driving in runs. His average is hovering around .250, which is what I expect him to be at for his career. No huge complaints, other than the fact that if he’s supposed to be an MVP candidate, he needs to hit .300 WITH the power. His defense is great in right, and he has an absolute cannon. I just wish he’d stop bitching about bad strike calls so much. Maybe if he stopped complaining so much, the umps would like him more and stop calling bad strike 3s. Edwin has been our best hitter this season. He’s among the league leaders in homers, and RBIs, offensively, nothing else can be asked of him. If he could play 3rd like Evan Longoria, that would be ideal. But he’s not Longoria, and he isn’t Miguel Cabrera, but he’s been good. Adam Lind has been a pleasant surprise. His batting average and on base percentages are both great. He seems to have lost all of his power, but he’s hitting, which is great.
The same can’t be said of the rest of the lineup, which is plagued by inconsistency, injury, or both. Melky has been ok, but he’s either hurt, or going to be suspended, so he hasn’t been in the lineup enough to contribute substantially. Colby Rasmus has picked it up lately, but we all know he runs hot and cold. His power can’t be dismissed, and I love his defense in center, but he strikes out too much, and can’t seem to hit in the clutch. His .263 average is probably going to be a career number. Brett Lawrie has been injured a lot, mostly due to his own stupidity, and I don’t feel bad for him. He has become arrogant, cocky, and frankly I feel like he’s a big punk. He has this air of entitlement, when he hasn’t done much in the big leagues. He needs to spend more time doing BP and practicing in the infield than he does on twitter lashing out at his critics. His best stint was at the end of the season two years ago. Last year, he was mediocre with the bat. He’s good with the glove, but they’ve been bouncing him around too much for him to get any consistency and rhythm. He needs to pick it up all around, as his .200 average won’t help us. We have too many .200 averages on this roster.
Maicer Izturis has been hot lately, but he’s not bringing this team into contention himself. He’s been underwhelming in the field, which is where we thought he’d be the biggest contributor. He’s a career utility man. Couldn’t we have signed John MacDonald for cheaper?
J.P. Arencibia has been a lightning rod for this team and its been warranted by his atrocious play. The guy can hit home runs, but that is it. Every other facet of his game is below the league average. He will be a career .220 hitter, with no defensive acumen. Much like Lawrie, JP needs to get off twitter and facebook, stop looking to answer back to critics on social media, and start answering back with his PLAY. I saw him whiff with the bases loaded on saturday, and I can honestly say that I knew it was coming. The guy is a strike out machine. At least if he was Yadier Molina behind the plate, I would be ok with his failures with the bat. I honestly think that the pitching staffs struggles can partially be blamed on him. Maybe he can’t call a good game? Maybe he can’t catch. The amount of passed balls I’ve seen in big moments would lead me to believe that he closes his eyes when the ball comes in. This guy is NOT the catcher of the future for this club if we expect to contend. People are saying the Jays need to sign a big named second baseman next season. I beg to differ. If the Jays hope to contend going forward, they need a stud catcher. Those are hard to come by, especially when you trade away the best catcher not in the big leagues for a washed up 40 year old knuckleballer.
Things do not look good for this club. They aren’t making the playoffs this year, and I don’t think they will next year either. Johnson is going to leave for a big contract, Dickey will retire soon, and I am sure Buerhle is dying to be traded away. Unless Drabek and Drew Hutchinson can come back with bionic arms, Rickey Romero and Brandon Morrow can rediscover their form and pitch with consistency, and Arencibia can learn to call a game, the future looks bleak for the Jays. They don’t have many top prospects left, and the big ones are too far away to be considered a part of this core. The next move is yours Anthopoulos. I think it could be your last as Jays GM.