There’s always next year Blue Jays fans

Sep 24, 2014 by

There’s always next year Blue Jays fans

It seems fitting that on the day the Toronto Blue Jays were mathematically eliminated from the playoff race that they crushed CY Young winner Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners 10-2. The Blue Jays teased fans all year-long with impressive bouts of offensive prowess and solid starting pitching only to be tempered by disappointing results during key stretches over the 2014 season.

Midway through the year the Blue Jays led the AL East by as many as 6 games and seemed destined for a playoff spot for the first time since 1993. Instead key injuries beset the ball club and the holes in the lineup couldn’t be filled either within the organization or outside and the team consequently fell apart. Losing key players like Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie for long stretches hurt this team dramatically, but the front office didn’t do the team any favours either. When the Blue Jays needed a bump in the lineup while in the thick of a playoff race, GM Alex Anthopoulos did not make an impact move desperately needed to augment a shorthanded lineup. After the trade deadline passed players like Jose Bautista publicly expressed his disappointment with the front office for failing to help the team and that attitude appeared to spillover onto the field as the team floundered in the month of August.

The Blue Jays could have been a contender this year with five solid starting pitchers and a batting lineup featuring two of the best hitters in baseball in the heart of their order and solid production from Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, and Adam Lind. The sore spot on this team was up the middle defensively and in the bottom three of the batting order. The enigmatic Colby Rasmus had an awful year at the plate and was replaced by the better defender Anthony Gose late in the season, likely signalling the end of Rasmus’ career as a Jay as he becomes a free agent in the offseason. Second base was a question mark most of the season and although Ryan Goins brought some stability to the position defensively in the latter part of the year he simply cannot hit. He still might be the best option at second next year, but shortstop should also be considered a question mark.   Jose Reyes is still an excellent offensive player, but he is a below average infielder at this stage in his career. He earns $22 million next year and one has to wonder if the Blue Jays would be better served either moving him to another team or another position on the field like third or DH.

The bullpen struggled this season, but unlike recent years the starting rotation was healthy and ate a lot of innings this year, hence reducing the relievers overall impact. Closer Casey Jansen will become a free-agent at season’s end and there is conflicting sentiment on whether or not he will, or should return, next year. The arms coming up through the Blue Jays farm system make filling his role and the question marks in the bullpen less of a concern knowing young studs like Aaron Sanchez, Kendall Graveman, and Daniel Norris all look like they can be suitable replacements.

As Jeff Blair states regularly on the fan590, the most important decision the Blue Jays make this off-season is dealing with impending free-agent Melky Cabrera. Signing him has to be the Blue Jays first priority, but after signing him or losing him to another team, there are still a number of pressing needs that must be addressed in the offseason. The Blue Jays have to figure out who will play up the middle, third base, centerfield, and close ball games. Additionally, they should look for a true number one pitcher that can lead this starting rotation. Yes it will likely result in adding significant payroll, but if moving either Mark Buehrle or Reyes allows the Jays to add a top of the rotation starter, either through trade or free agency, than those options must be seriously considered.  The Blue Jays could just do it the old-fashioned way and add salary and start acting like they belong in the top-tier of spenders in baseball.

The Blue Jays are on the cusp of something special, but their window for winning could be closing soon. Front office has to consider adding salary and address the lack of depth and quality in key positions. Young arms like Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez are easy to get excited about for future squads, but this team has a core of key players in their prime ready to win now featuring the likes of Bautista, Encarnacion, Reyes and Lind. It’s time for Blue Jays brass to allow Anthopoulos the room to do what’s needed to get to the playoffs, which likely means adding payroll. This team shouldn’t settle for just re-signing Cabrera this offseason, they should also seriously look at going after Jon Lester or someone of his ilk. The Blue Jays need to stop acting like a small market team and step-up; otherwise, it could be awhile before we see playoff baseball again in this town.



  1. Anthopoulos building a contender - The Sporting Spectator - […] strengths; there are even rumblings that the Jays are interested in stud pitcher Jon Lester (something I suggested not long ago).…

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