Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reflecting on the 2012 Blue Jays Season

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Image courtesy of Yahoo/AP
Like many, I feel like the end of the 2012 Blue Jays season was bittersweet. On one hand, it was nice to finally be released from what has been a death grip of an emotionally taxing season. On the other hand, it feels like there's a void in my soul after the dust has settled on Game 162.

As the final outs of the Toronto Blue Jays season ticked down last night, I didn't want to leave my seat at the Rogers Centre.Perhaps part of the reason why I didn't want to leave was because walking out the doors would officially put an end to what was an otherwise disappointing Blue Jays season.

After all, it was just six short months ago when the Blue Jays entered Opening Day boasting their best Spring Training record ever. One could argue that the buzz about the Blue Jays was much higher than it had been in many years. Especially after the new uniform reveal and a slew of offseason trades and signings, optimism was abound in the city of Toronto.

While it was fully expected that 2011 was going to be a development year for Toronto, 2012 was supposed  to be a year in which the Blue Jays would take a step forward. Instead, it was a year where the Blue Jays  took a step or two backwards.

There were some pleasant surprises along the way: Edwin Encarnacion, Casey Janssen, Darren Oliver just to name a few. And there were some outright disappointments in Ricky Romero, Yunel Escobar and Colby Rasmus.

In order to field a successful team, ultimately the good needs to outweigh all the bad. The pleasant surprises and the career years need to compensate for regression and just flat out bad luck. That simply was not the case for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012.

Although the Blue Jays managed to get an extended look at guys like Anthony Gose, Moises Sierra and Adeiny Hechavarria, there are still a lot of questions surrounding them heading into 2013. Despite the fact they all had 40 plus games under their belt this season, I honestly don't know where these guys fit in next season.

In retrospect, the front office was foolish to think they could get away with a starting rotation that included members like Aaron Laffey, Joel Carreno, Jesse Chavez, Brett Cecil, and even to some extent, Henderson Alvarez.

But when a team was decimated with injuries like the Blue Jays were, you're merely looking for somebody ... anybody to stop the bleeding. Who could have foreseen that the Blue Jays would not only need to employ Plan B, C and D with the starting rotation, but that their contingency plan would go as far as Plan E, F and G?

Unless you're as fortunate as the Cincinnati Reds were to have basically the same five starting pitchers all season long, the Blue Jays need to continue to build their pitching depth in the minor league system. Because those guys could get a call at a moment's notice.

That being said, this team is not built for success in 2013 the way it is currently constructed. Not just pitching wise, but offensively as well. The current one through nine and starting five needs to be overhauled in order for the Blue Jays to contend.

Just look at what happened with Jose Bautista; before he went down to injury the Blue Jays were 45-45. Down the stretch without Bautista in the lineup, they were 28-44. Obviously, Toronto depends on Jose Bautista ... but if he were ever to go down again, they need offensive contributions from somebody else.

Not that any team can foresee who will get hurt and the duration of their time on the disabled list, but there always needs to be a backup plan. Had the New York Yankees just pat and not made any trades or free agent signings, they might have been just like the Blue Jays; on the outside looking in.

I echo the sentiments of the young man in the photo above; there is always next year.

If you think about it, that sign is an actually incredibly enlightening and depressing statement at the same time. There will always be next year ... and there will always be another game. But at the same time, tomorrow may never come if you don't play for today.

9 comments:

  1. Good points. I agree depth was exposed. That said, I think AA didn't go out of his way to get Major League depth last offseason. Or else maybe it was reasonable to think that between Alvarez, Drabek, Hutchison, McGowan, Cecil, Laffey, Villanueva, Jenkins, McGuire, Carreno - there would be enough depth.

    I remember debates on how good an arm should he go out and get for the rotation that might block out a younger arm like Drabek or Alvarez - and at what cost. Especially since the Jays were still a few pieces away or everything would have to break right.

    As you eluded to above, we might have a similar problem for 2013. Getting pitching is easier said than done especially since it seems every team is looking for pitching.

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    1. I think in an ordinary season, having those guys as backups would be okay. But this was a year unlike any other, especially when it came to SP's. There were still a lot of questions surrounding Drabek and Hutch, but who ever expected them to go down to year-ending injuries? Not I, my friend.

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  2. I think this season has proven to management, and perhaps AA most especially, that we're not as close as we had hoped we would be. Missing out on Darvish and Cespedes, two players who would have only cost $$$, is going to have long-term consequences. They could have been a compliment to the team without the expense of prospects or draft picks, and were attainable. That was a huge fail in my eyes.

    So now what? We expect AA to pull the rabbit out of a hat and acquire one, if not TWO front line starters, a dependable LF, a 2B (if it isnt Johnson), and some depth pieces... my question is... at what cost? The Lansing 3? TDa? Gose? Hech? All of the above?

    Throw a 3/50 offer at Greinke and see what happens. Then grab Marcum for 2/15. Sign Ortiz or deal for Choo (without one of the Lansing 3 being involved). I still think JJ and/or Garza could be had for the right package.

    AA is going to have to be very creative...

    We know he knows how to build a strong talented farm system. It remains to be seen whether he can build a strong MLB team... which is ultimately, what he must do.

    Just my nickel... I'd say two cents, but isn't Canada getting rid of pennies? Someone will have to "coin" a new phrase...

    Geez... Im horrible.

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    1. Excellent point re: being close. I would've said the same thing - with the way the 2012 roster was constructed on Opening Day, the looked okay. The rotation could have been bolstered by a Darvish or even Latos for example. And now they really have to step back and reevaluate just how many SP's they need. Is it 2,3?

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  3. Love that pic, Ian. Great find.

    This season was ... trying. I checked out mid-August. Haven't felt this disengaged in a long time.

    Great work this season, by the way, on the blog. You're a machine.

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    1. Thanks Nav, much appreciated! The offseason will be good for the soul, trust me.

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  4. What year was this photo taken? Could be any year from 1994 onward...

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  5. While the season as a whole has not been what we fans hoped it would be there are some positives. Look at Morrow. If he hadn't gone down in June I'm sure he'd be in the hunt for the Cy. Edwin really shone. And Casey ran with the "closer" role. But yeah, the depth of the injuries revealed the lack of depth in the system. I also think this was the wake up call AA needed. I'm not a spend money for the sake of spending money person but a few bucks have to be shaken loose going forward.

    Ian will you be doing FF's throughout the off season?

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    1. No, me neither ... but work definitely needs to be done, whether it's bringing in free agents or making trades. They simply can't ride with Gose, Hech and Sierra and hope for the best.

      As far as Flashback Fridays go, unfortunately today was the last of the season ... but they'll pick back up at the beginning of next season. I need the offseason to do my research! But I'm glad you've been enjoying them :)

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