A stunning turnaround for the Toronto Blue Jays

Nov 21, 2012 by

A stunning turnaround for the Toronto Blue Jays


The last 48 hours will be a key time to reference should the Toronto Blue Jays contend in the 2013 season and beyond.  A new manager has been named in John Gibbons and a blockbuster deal with the Miami Marlins involving the exchange of twelve players has been finally approved by Major League Baseball’s commissioner Bud Selig. The trade between Miami and Toronto, which was initially reported a week ago, has the city abuzz and there has been a dramatic shift in fan sentiment in favour of the Blue Jays following one of the worst years in franchise history which culminated with John Ferrell abandoning his post in order to manage the division rival Boston Red Sox. Amazingly, this move has quickly been overshadowed by the dramatic moves Toronto has since made; somehow addressing most of their pressing needs in a single transaction.  They have added some much-needed depth and stability to their starting rotation with two veteran quality starters in Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson and an exciting game changer with Jose Reyes at shortstop.  In addition, just days after the parameters of the trade were made public, the Jays added free agent Melky Cabrera with a two-year $16 million contract, and suddenly the Blue Jays are among the highest in team payrolls with over $120 million invested in the 2013 roster and can now be considered a contender for next season. It’s an exciting time to be a Blue Jays fan; some hope has finally been restored, not just to baseball fans, but to Toronto sports fans.  Even still, I had some trepidation discussing this trade until Bud Selig rubber stamped the transaction – it just seemed too good to be true.  As much damage as this trade has done to the perception of the Marlins organization, the impact would have been devastating to a Toronto fan base had this trade been overturned.  This city has waited twenty years for a trade of this magnitude and the fallout would have been immense considering the numerous failures of last season.


Now that Bud Selig has finally approved the trade, the city of Toronto can breathe a collective sigh of relief. The amount of talent and salary heading to Toronto in exchange for a nominal group of relatively inexpensive unproven talent, gave justification for some concern that Selig may in fact revoke the trade. The outcry of dissent among Marlins fans only added further scrutiny to the issue, but now we can safely discuss the moves without fear of having to retract any comments.  This trade has been impressively orchestrated by GM Alex Anthopoulos. No one saw this trade coming and as I suggested in my last column, it is precisely the type of move that the Blue Jays organization needed to make in order to infuse some excitement and hope among its fans and this city.  Despite the fact Toronto is the 5th largest city in North America the Blue Jays have acted like a small market team for much of the past two decades. It seems like recent management has been cut from the same cloth of Billy Beane; focusing on building young competitive teams with limited payrolls and a reluctance to spend the big money required to lure top free agents.  Hopefully these recent transactions reflect a shift in attitude and the Blue Jays organization begins to assert themselves like the big market team that they are, but have been reluctant to embrace.


These moves are also important because they send a message to the rest of MLB that the Blue Jays are a team to be reckoned with and that they have the players and resources to contend in the 2013 season.  When was the last time we heard that about a Toronto based franchise?  These moves put Toronto back on the sports map and finally there is an air of hope around here.  Even Las Vegas is showing Toronto some love; prior to the blockbuster trade with Miami, the Blue Jays were 50-1 favourites to win the World Series.  Since Cabrera signed the odds are now 11-1, making Toronto one of the favourites.  Now it’s still far too early to make any grand assessments or predictions for the upcoming season, but based on the recent moves Toronto should at the very least contend for a playoff spot. Rehiring John Gibbons to manage the Blue Jays is still a difficult choice to understand or assess, but many baseball insiders are heralding the move and given the dramatic improvements the Blue Jays have made Anthopoulos should be given the benefit of the doubt on his choice for manager.


Whatever unfolds in the 2013 MLB season isn’t entirely relevant, what is of greater importance  is the shift in attitude towards spending and competing the way big market ought to and that Toronto finally has a franchise that is trying to contend.  It’s this hope that has been missing in Toronto since Vince Carter was a superstar and Mats Sundin was in his prime in the early 2000’s.  Since that time, mediocrity and disappointment has defined the Toronto sports scene.  For Toronto fans, 2013 will hopefully mark the beginning of a new winning era – one that has been sorely absent for far too long.


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