Game 1 of 162

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:

1. Travis
2. Donaldson
3. Smoak
4. Granderson
5. Morales
6. Grichuk
7. Martin
8. Pillar
9. Diaz

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.

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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23 Responses to Game 1 of 162

  1. Becky Turner says:

    Hey, I sometimes take selfies at games. But I don’t leave in the 7th. I almost left the Red Sox game I went to last year in the 11th inning, but Moreland hit a walk off homer and everything was good.

    I didn’t know that Clippard was with the Jays now. He’s been bouncing around so much, and that’s not a good thing.

    Russell Martin is super old. Tulo hasn’t been healthy in years. Kendrys Morales is also old. And the Grandy-Man. He’s a good leader, but he’s probably not producing the numbers he should be, or used to.

    Didn’t the Jays old GM leave for the Braves when they got caught up in that international signing thing? Also what does the farm system look like? Do the Jays use that at all and draft good players and build upon that talent like the Sox do? Or are they dependent on older guys who aren’t in their prime anymore but have the name recognition?

    If it makes you feel any better, the Red Sox messed up yesterday against the Rays, and our bullpen sucks. Yippe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Selfies are fine, but I’ve seen people show up late and leave early, and all they cared about doing was taking pictures of themselves to make it look like they were baseball fans.

      The old Jays GM was great. He came to my school to speak to my class for an hour so maybe I’m biased. But fans miss him. He left when Mark Shapiro came in from Cleveland to be President. As rumour goes, Shapiro sat him down and expressed his displeasure that he had traded away so many prospects to make a run at the World Series. Also, Shapiro wanted to come in and be a part of the decision making process. Our GM didn’t like that and didn’t re-sign, so Shapiro brought in a friend from Cleveland to be our GM and there’s been angst and distrust between the fans and them since the beginning.

      The Blue Jays don’t develop any star players in the minors outside of pitchers (Noah Syndergaard was ours at one point) and then we normally trade them away to get our hitters. Or, we just luck into our superstars. Bautista was acquired for a minor league catcher. Encarnacion was acquired because the Reds insisted we take him in a trade.

      We definitely get guys who are a big name but are passed their best before date. Did it with Jose Reyes, Troy Glaus, Tulo, Morales, Frank Thomas even.

      The Red Sox just pump out homegrown talent and I’m jealous of it. Hey maybe we can send you some bullpen help for someone like Devers?

      Also, Tampa Bay is such a depressing place to start a season.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Becky Turner says:

        The only reason why I know who Mark Shapiro is is because of Moneyball haha. But I didn’t know that about the front office, and maybe that’s why the team isn’t utilizing its farm system like it should be. I get wanting to get to the World Series, but sometimes you have good home grown talent that’s cheaper than signing a bunch of big name guys.

        I had no clue the Jays had Syndergaard at one point. That’s funny. I just thought the Mets literally grew him from the ground and Thor popped up. There’s only so much a team can do with big name guys because they all have expiration dates, like all of the ones you named. (I know Troy Glaus from Backyard Baseball way back when.)

        Dombrowski is ruthless, but I don’t know if he’d give up Devers. Although there were rumors they were looking to shop JBJ. And Tampa is a horrible place to start. But then they’re going to Miami for two games, and that’s the world’s tackiest stadium.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Shapiro was made to look like a fool in Moneyball so I don’t full trust him because of that.

        Ugh we traded Syndergaard and Travis D’arnaud for R.A. Dickey and 2 catchers who could catch the knuckleball but couldn’t do anything else. Dickey was 40 years old and coming off a Cy Young season. I, along with everyone else, was so excited. That was also the off-season we made that big trade with the Marlins and got Jose Reyes. In hindsight, that Mets trade looks sooooo bad.

        Haha have fun looking at that hideous thing in centre field when they play Miami! And if Marlins Man is there, the tackiness level will be at an all time high.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Becky Turner says:

        Fun fact: Travis’s brother, Chase, played for the Sox last season for a very brief period of time.

        Was that the year the Marlins had a fire sale and half of the team went to the Jays? Because that was fun. The Jays don’t seem to make good trades, and I mean hindsight is 20/20, but they have to have some idea at the time whether it will pay off.

        Apparently there’s some issue with Marlins Man and the team about season tickets or something, so I don’t know if he’ll be in attendance. And I HATE the homerun machine.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Yup that was the year! We also got pitcher Josh Johnson and ruined his career in one year. I think the Blue Jays always have a chip on their shoulder to make big trades because we don’t think any free agent of relevance will say to themselves, “I’m gonna go play in Canada!” So we make bold trades that look good on paper initially, but a few years down the road, we pay for it.

        That thing is a home run machine??? I just looked it up, apparently Marlins Man is a free agent LOL

        Random note: Did you know that Coca-Cola bottle in the outfield in San Francisco is actually a slide!?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Becky Turner says:

        I remember when Josh Johnson used to be good. Like really good. Then he just kind of fell off the face of the earth.

        Yes it is! You didn’t know that? Hahha. It’s so tacky. I wish they’d get rid of it. And no I didn’t know that about the bottle! I know the Brewers have a slide in center field behind the fence that their mascot sometimes goes down.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        One of my professors showed us a YouTube video of fans going down the slide in the bottle. We all sat there stunned.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dutch Lion says:

    Paulie! I watched your Blue Jays tonight on MLB Network. I agree with your analysis. Things don’t look so good for Toronto this year. I’m probably predicting a 4th place finish ahead of only the Tampa Bay Rays. New York and Boston are incredible, while Baltimore seems better than Toronto to me.

    I love Josh Donaldson. However, they showed him working on his throws in practice today and……it wasn’t good. It almost looks like he has the yips or some kind of mental problem with his throws right now. What to do? Hopefully the dead arm goes away. If not, DH it is. PLUS, his hitting tonight, and yesterday, looks bad. It’s too early to write him off, but red flags are flying.

    Sorry buddy. It’s sad because just a couple years ago with Encarnacion and Bautista, this team was a true contender. Now? I hope I’m wrong but they are heading down towards the basement of the AL East.

    PS Look for my upcoming 2018 MLB Preview soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I’m afraid it’s going to be a long year for us, which is a shame because our pitching staff doesn’t have any visible holes (yet). It’s out hitters…there’s just no one to get excited about. We’re a station to station team. We have some kids in the minors but our outfield is too crowded for them or they’re too young to be brought up.

      Donaldson normally throws the ball almost from a sidearm slot which puts a lot of velocity on the ball. I was the same way. And now he throws directly over the top and has to clutch a few times before throwing it. I feel like I know what he’s going through and about 80% of it is mental, especially since he doesn’t feel any pain.

      Could be the yips, like you said, but there’s definitely a hesitation to throw it in the same arm slot as he always has.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dutch Lion says:

        I hope Donaldson can get it fixed. I’m even more worried that it will affect his hitting. He looks bad at the plate over the 1st two days, but yeah, it’s early.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Yeah, I think he only got about 20 at-bats in Spring Training. His swing looks fine, he’s just not hitting anything. Then again neither is the rest of the team haha

        Liked by 1 person

  3. markbialczak says:

    I also take selfies at Syracuse Chiefs games, Paul. For my blog!
    Truth-telling: Once in a while I leave early, but only when the game’s basically over. Never when the score’s tied. And, hey, it’s Triple-A and I’m not busting the bank to buy our tickets.
    Anyway, as a Mets fan, I will share my opinion that, one, you should be very afraid of Tyler Clippard. And, two, you might love Curtis Granderson for his big hits come June. He’s a slow starter. (You’re right. He’s no speed guy on the basepaths anymore.)
    Good luck rooting for your Blue Jays, good sir. I hope your dead arm bounces back!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I have nothing against selfies! I was just referencing the people who show up and conduct a photoshoot with themselves all game and then leave early during a tie. (I witnessed this once, I don’t know if it applies to the masses).

      Did they drop the “Sky” from their name? I remember the Blue Jays Triple-A team was the Syracuse Sky Chiefs many years ago.

      Thanks for the heads up! I just hope we’re still in a race come June. This could get out of control quickly. Good luck to your Mets!

      Like

      • markbialczak says:

        Yes, the Syracuse team dropped the Sky from the name a decade or so ago. They were trying to get away from the controversy of the Native American insensitivies, but went back to the traditional name. Word is that next season, when the affililiation changes again, they will become the Syracuse Mets. I look forward to that switch, as a Mets fan, you know?!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. sportsattitudes says:

    Paul, this is the best analysis I’ve read so far about the Blue Jays, which is bad news for Jays fans because I do believe your pessimism is well-founded. They check all the boxes you don’t want to see checks by…slow, old, injury-prone. Looks like 3rd place in the division is a legit “goal.” Yet, you know full well it is a marathon, not a sprint. Long season ahead – take joy in the journey and perhaps the destination will surprise!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Yup, it’ll be hard to match the Yankees and Red Sox this, they just have too much star power. The first two games against the Yankees were terrible for us, then we won 4 in a row and looked like a whole new team. I still don’t know what the Blue Jays are but at least they’re keeping it interesting. Good look to your Phillies! I have Santana and Kingery in my fantasy league.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I know what you mean, Paul. It’s so true. I’ve seen all those tail lights beyond Center field winding down Chevez Ravine during the 7th inning hoping to make a quick getaway onto Highway 101. Ha, ha, ha, ha there is no such thing as a quick getaway in Los Angeles. Dodger fans, don’t you despise them? Oh, you meant that that’s the way Toronto Blue Jay fans were before 2015! I must have made a bad turn back there somewhere. Maybe I got confused by the two teams colours. You know, Blue, White, and a touch of Red. But, on the plus side, the Jays 4 and 3 now and appear to have recovered from that Opening Day loss. One hundred and fifty-five games to go, plenty of time to recover—unless you’re a Giants fan like me. Where is our teams One A Day vitamins?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Chavez Ravine, Chevez Ravine. I had an abundance of E’s and had to use an extra one. Sorry about that but sometimes you have to throw in a few extras for free. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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