I shouldn’t be so frustrated after one game, but I am. I don’t even know where to start.
The Toronto Blue Jays lost the first game of the season to the New York Yankees, by a score of 6-1. It was the 7th straight home opener the Blue Jays have lost.
If you look at the 2017 AL East standings, you’ll see that the Blue Jays finished in fourth. They spent the entire season in last place, but on the final day – Game 162 – they climbed out of the basement.
Injuries played a huge part in last year’s debacle. And as a result, our lack of depth was on full display.
I also like to think that management was incredibly naive heading into last season, especially when it came to the health of the starting rotation.
In 2016, the starting rotation was wonderful. The Blue Jays only needed seven starters that season. Depth was not put to the test, at all.
Entering 2017, they thought our five man rotation was solid. Best in the league. No one could stop them. And I think they underprepared, as a result.
I mean, how else can you explain that Mat Latos was designated as the first call-up from the minors, should a starter get injured? And beyond him, there was no one. They’d make it up on the fly.
Make it up on the fly, they did. Because all of a sudden Aaron Sanchez had a blister on his finger that might as well have been a volcano because the season erupted from there.
They had 14 pitchers start a game for them in 2017. Only 4 of them managed an ERA under 5.00.
While we’re hanging out in the basement of the standings last season, management thought it was a great time to mention that we can contend next year if we’re healthy.
Alrighty then! 2018 it is! Contend we shall!
Over the winter, reinforcements were added. Our depth was strengthened, so when our injury prone players get injured, we have suitable replacements.
Our starting rotation is healthy again. All the blisters are gone. Everything is just peachy!
Oh I forgot to mention…
We were also told last season that a rebuild is out of the question because the fans won’t put up with it. That’s a roundabout way of saying, “We’re making more money than we’ve ever made and we don’t want the green to go away, so we’re not trading away everyone.”
Seriously. The Blue Jays have been insanely popular since 2015. The 20 years before that, people didn’t care. I mean, the real baseball fans did, but not the ones who go to games to take selfies and leave in the 7th inning of a tie game.
That’s true by the way. I’ve witnessed it first hand.
But outside of those “Oh, everyone else is here, so I should be too, what’s a fastball?” fans, the Blue Jays have gained a lot of new “actual” fans and the team wants their money. Why else would they raise ticket prices this season after having a terrible 2017 campaign?
The Blue Jays are terrified of empty stadiums again. So they’ll insist on putting a team on the field that isn’t capable of winning a World Series, but market them as having a chance.
I guess when your baseball team is owned by a media and communications company, you can spin the narrative.
And spin it they have!
The baseball analysts on TV are grasping at any and all prediction articles that have the Blue Jays sneaking into a playoff spot this year, and selling it as a possibility.
I look at the Blue Jays roster and don’t see the optimism that I’m told I should be seeing.
Yes, we have a great starting rotation. Our bullpen is full of names who have succeeded before. That being said, our bullpen worries me because we’ve added Tyler Clippard, John Axford, and Seung-hwan Oh – three former closers.
Is it too pessimistic of me to say that there’s a reason why none of them are closers anymore?
Those three will sit in the bullpen with our actual closer, Roberto Osuna, Danny Barnes, Ryan Tepera, and the “lefty specialist”, Aaron Loup.
Who is the long man in this bullpen? Who can go out and pitch three innings? I know Tepera can, but they turned him into a set-up guy last season.
Clippard, Axford, and Oh seem like one inning guys.
Loup – no.
Barnes? There are better uses for him than waiting for the starting pitcher to allow 7 runs in 3 innings.
Who’s the reliever that gets sent to the minors when everyone has been overused and we need a fresh arm? I’m not sure who still has options, but it would seem like a slap in the face to all of them should any of them be sent down…unless they are truly horrific.
I don’t know. Third base.
But let’s imagine that our pitching is fine. It probably will be. What could go wrong? The blisters are gone.
The depth moves in the off-season were fine. Aledmys Diaz, Yangervis Solarte, Gift Ngoepe, Curtis Granderson, and Randal Grichuk are notable upgrades from what we had before.
But here is the root of my frustration.
Our lineup is dependant upon players who are no longer in the prime of their career, and if they are, they aren’t impactful enough. On top of that, we are…what’s the phrase I’m looking for…oh yeah, INJURY PRONE.
We can go position by position.
Russell Martin (Catcher): He’s 35-years-old, susceptible to injury, and has hit above .240 only once since 2010. But he’s Canadian! He’s one of us. It’s hard not to like him. I’m just pointing out that at this stage of his career, we’re not going to get his best.
Justin Smoak (First Base): He’s 31-years-old and last season was his breakout year, while everything else around him was falling apart. Am I supposed to believe he can replicate last year’s success?
Devon Travis (Second Base): I love Devon Travis. However, he’s played 213 games in the last 3 years, as our starting second baseman. That’s not good!
Troy Tulowitzki (Shortstop): He didn’t do anything in Spring Training. He’s on the 60-Day DL, which means he’s not playing for us for at least three months. And if/when he does, we’re not getting the Troy Tulowitzki you think of when you hear the name Troy Tukowitzki.
Diaz, Solarte, and Ngoepe will fill in for him. I think I like Solarte the most out of the three.
Josh Donaldson (Third Base): He’s in the final year of his contract and is falling apart at the seams. He made four throws to first base yesterday and none of them looked good. He had been battling shoulder issues in the spring but we didn’t know the extent.
After the game, John Gibbons told the media that he’s not injured. “Not a big deal, it’s just dead.”
“NOT A BIG DEAL, IT’S JUST DEAD.”
Oh my God.
So I looked up what “dead arm” is and realized I’ve (probably) had it since 2011. I know exactly when I injured my shoulder and I’ve never been able to throw a ball the same way ever since.
There is no full extension anymore when I throw a ball. Before, I could whip a ball pretty far. Now, it’s more of a calculated arm motion and the ball doesn’t have much speed or distance to it. I have to rely on my wrist for most of the distance.
Seeing Donaldson throw the ball yesterday reminded me of myself. If he can rectify the issue because he’s a professional athlete with access to trainers, all the power to him. I’m not convinced.
So then they say that Donaldson might have to DH more often. If he goes into the DH spot, Kendrys Morales sits on the bench.
Kendrys Morales (Designated Hitter): He was signed before last season to be Edwin Encarnacion Lite. He’s slow. He can’t play a position, outside of first base for a few games. He can’t be moved around the diamond, so he’s preventing all of our injury prone players from getting a half day off by serving as the DH.
In a perfect world, your DH is either David Ortiz, or a collection of players who you cycle in and out from the field. Morales isn’t Ortiz, and he isn’t a position player that can be cycled in and out with anyone other than Smoak.
He hit .250 and had an on-base percentage of .308 last year, while hitting 28 home runs and driving in 85 runs. He also congested the base paths.
I’m sorry. Two off-seasons ago management told us they wanted to get younger and faster. Since then, we’ve gotten older and slower. Am I missing something here?
I mean, there’s a reason why our hitters go up to the plate and swing for the fences. It’s because there’s no use getting on base if they’re moving one base at a time.
Steve Pearce (OF/INF): I’m sure he’s a great guy, but I don’t know why he’s on the team. He was brought in with Morales as a way to replace Edwin’s production. All of a sudden we’re the Oakland A’s, doing Moneyball tactics.
His average and OBP were about the same as Morales, and he hit 13 home runs and drove in 37 runs, while proving that he can’t play left field. He was supposed to platoon with Smoak at first base but Smoak had a career year.
Then Pearce got injured and c’est la vie.
I have no idea where he fits on this team. His roster spot should be a guy with speed, no? I’m just asking.
Curtis Granderson (LF): He’s 37-years-old and hit 4th in the lineup yesterday. We had this last year and his name was Jose Bautista.
I like Granderson. He seems like a great clubhouse guy, and I’m sure he can still contribute offensively. But most of our fan base sees him as a leadoff hitter who can steal bases – something we haven’t had since 1543.
If you’re going to bat leadoff for me, I want your OBP to be at least .350. He’s been above .350 only four times since 2004.
But Paul, he can steal bases!
Can he? He stole 25 bases in 2011 and hasn’t stolen more than 11 since then.
So what do we have here? I don’t know. Third base.
That’s an Abbott and Costello joke, by the way. I need to keep myself amused.
Kevin Pillar (CF): He’s a great defender and will hit near the bottom of the order. I don’t mind him on the team. He is what he is.
Randal Grichuk (RF): I’m actually optimistic about him. The Blue Jays have had a way of turning castoffs into really good players. See: Bautista & Encarnacion.
He seems to have the right attitude and I liked that he was sporting the high socks yesterday. We’ll see what he can do.
I just don’t see how this lineup is a contender. We basically need every player to have a career year, and that won’t happen because most of them are past their prime, and most of them are probably going to get injured.
The batting order for the first game was as follows:
First off, I love john Gibbons as a Manager. I think he manages the bullpen as well as anyone. I can see the reasoning behind his lineups, including this one.
Fact of the matter is, I just watched the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs win the World Series and they were both younger, faster, and more versatile than the lineup the Blue Jays plan on sending out there this season.
If it’s a transition year, come out and say it’s a transition year. I’ll be fine with it!
Just don’t dupe me with the analysts presenting their overly optimistic projections. I had to listen to them say, “Aaron Sanchez is healthy which is at least 10-12 more wins than last season, which would put the Blue Jays in a playoff spot.”
Am I supposed to act dumb and take it? You can’t just take a win total from one year, add a player, and project 10-12 more wins. It’s a different year. It’s a different team. You actually have to go out and win those games again, you can’t assume you will.
Our lineup is old and slow.
And management likes to allude to the fact that our farm system was emptied by our previous General Manager. Yeah, he traded prospects away, but we still have a really good starting rotation and one of the best closers in the league.
I don’t recall any position players being traded away that have gone on to be important players on other teams. We have a history of not being able to develop position players.
I guess that’s why when we (the fans) get glimpses of Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., we get giddy of what’s to come.
And then I see the team we currently have – one that is supposedly a contender – and I get frustrated because this season feels like a lie. It feels like a money grab. It feels like they’re just trying to hold onto the fans a little bit longer.
I get it. Baseball teams need to sell optimism. Otherwise, you’re the Miami Marlins.
Just don’t tell me we need to get younger and faster, and then go sign older and slower players.
Don’t tell me we can’t rebuild and then let me watch our best players fall apart in front of my eyes.
I’m just frustrated.
The Yankees don’t fear us. Are you kidding me? The have Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. We have Donaldson and Smoak. Come on.
I love Josh Donaldson but if he can’t throw the ball across the diamond, then he has to DH. And if he’s the DH, Morales sits on the bench. And if Morales sits on the bench, the only way he gets in the game is as a pinch hitter, and then you need a defensive replacement for him, so you’ve blown two out of four bench players at the same time.
Why can’t we have a versatile team?
If there was ever a team that could benefit from a fluid rotation of players in and out of the DH spot, it’s the Toronto Blue Jays.
Maybe I’m overreacting, but I didn’t like what I saw in Game 1.
And the idea that we can win games by a score of 3-2 because our starting pitchers are so good, is laughable.
The Calgary Flames supposedly had the best defence going into the NHL season and they’re not even making the playoffs. Don’t talk to me about pitching and defence bailing out an offence.
We’re in the AL East. You can’t score 3-4 runs every game and expect to get anywhere.
I’m going to stop writing now. I think I got it all out.
Let’s Go Blue Jays.