|Courtesy of Sportsnet|
But we all know what happened at season's end ... things changed. Priorities shifted and the roster was completely overhauled after the blockbuster trade with the Marlins, the signing of Melky Cabrera and the aquisition of R.A. Dickey.
And thus the tone of the 2013 Blue Jays State of the Franchise changed drastically as well. It suddenly went from a sombre affair to a much more upbeat and optimistic gathering.
Unfortunately, there really weren't all that many juicy quotes from the panel of Paul Beeston, Alex Anthopoulos and John Gibbons. There was a lot of rehashing of the same questions, or answers to questions that most people already knew.
The only new information revealed was that John Gibbons is planning on employing a rotation order of Dickey/Morrow/Buehrle/Johnson/Romero, that Maicer Izturis has the edge over Emilio Bonifacio at second base, and the plans on running a seven-man bullpen.
Other than that, it was overall a pretty tame evening. All questions were pre-submitted ahead of time by season ticket holders and not surprisingly most of them were fairly standard softball questions.
That may have diffused any hostile inquiries, but even if the questions weren't pre-submitted, I can't imagine the evening would have unfolded much differently than it did.
Really the only noticeable difference was just the overall tone of everyone on the concourse. There truly was a renewed sense of optimism from the Blue Jays fan base.
It's all summed up best by @StephR2D2 and her friend Emma who noted the mantra of the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays seems to be that they're "cautiously optimistic" ... which really encapsulates what most Season Ticket holders feel about this Blue Jays squad.
The cautious optimism also appears to be shared by Alex Anthopoulos as well, because at no point during the evening were expectations ever addressed. Unlike previous years, there were never any promises uttered by the panel as to if and when the Blue Jays would be making the postseason.
In effect, what the panel didn't say at the State of the Franchise almost had more of an impact than what the panel did say. Frankly, Alex Anthopoulos pretty much already answered all the outstanding questions by the moves he made during the offseason.
I assumed there would be some sort of "playoffs or bust" statement from Beeston or Anthopoulos, but neither of them really confirmed the 2013 Blue Jays are "all-in", even though they essentially are.
I think they learned over the past few years that managing fan expectations is extremely important. When Paul Beeston said at last year's State of the Franchise that he expected the team to be in the playoffs two to three times in the next five years, people remember that. In fact, they never forget that.
Coming from the team President, that's basically a promise to the fan base that the Blue Jays would be in the playoffs. And when the team fails to hold up that end of the bargain, fans get angry ... and for good reason.
Rather than making promises they might not be able to keep, the Blue Jays front office made a departure from previous years and would apparently rather let the results on the field speak for themselves.
And that's really what it all ultimately boils down to; Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston could promise the world to season ticket holders at the State of the Franchise, but what's it all worth if the Blue Jays don't make the playoffs?
Then the season ticket holders would be back at the 2014 State of the Franchise making the exact same demands while Alex and Paul would be making the exact same promises. Seems like a futile exercise if there ever was one.
The flurry of offseason moves may have proved otherwise, but the Blue Jays' goal for this upcoming season should be to under promise and over deliver. That being said, they have every reason to be cautiously optimistic for the 2013 season.