This isn't our year
Don't let The Blue Jays convince you they're a contender.
If you ever watch Rogers Sportsnet you may have noticed there is a new vibe surrounding Canada’s baseball team. The Blue Jays pulled off a flurry of off-season activity. The Jays signed All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera and traded for reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, four-time All-Star Jose Reyes, perennial Cy Young candidate Mark Buehrle, and two-time All-Star Josh Johnson.
The reinforcements join a roster already highlighted by former home run king Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and J.P. Arencibia, among others. I have seen a lot of Blue Jays stuff around campus and hearing a lot of talk form people that the Jays could win a championship this year. But here’s the thing, this grand experiment in Toronto is not going to work.
The truth is that the Blue Jays are relying on far too many things to break right with too much potential for things to go horribly wrong.
Start with the face of the franchise, Joe Bautista. Joey Bats has been one of the best power hitters in the majors for three years now. However, Bautista is 33 years old, right around the age where most power hitters begin a steady decline. Edwin Encarnacion is coming off a huge 42 home run campaign, but only hit more than 20 home runs twice in seven previous seasons. He might duplicate that success, but he’s 30 years old and there is endless evidence for players having one big power year in their 30’s and then completely falling off (Jack Cust, Luis Gonzalez, Travis Hafner et. al).
Then there’s Langley’s own Brett Lawrie. Hailed as a top prospect destined to be one of the game’s best third baseman, Lawrie has struggled as a major leaguer thus far. He’s had two reasonably productive years in the Majors but he can’t stay healthy. We’re less than a full week into the season and Lawrie is already on the disabled list with a rib injury.
Colby Rasmus has limitless talent, but for all his talent, he’s hit better than .260 just once in his career and Melky Cabrera, the riskiest acquisition of all, could be a disaster with the Blue Jays. Cabrera was about to win the batting title last year until he tested positive for steroids. He might still be successful while off the juice, but he’s far more likely to regress back to the mediocre player who was dumped by the Yankees.
Toronto’s pitching staff is wrought with its own problems. R.A. Dickey may have been the best pitcher in the national league last year but he may not be a sure thing. For starters, the Blue Jays don’t have a catcher who can handle his knuckleball as evidenced by the three passed balls on Opening Night. Dickey also had an eight-year run ranging from middling to disastrous before last season. He is 38 years old and could easily be a one year wonder.
Josh Johnson has been dominant when healthy, but he has had multiple arm surgeries and always one throw away from the disabled list. Asking Ricky Romero to rebound back to his brilliant 2011 could be asking a lot, too. Romero was a walking disaster last year, his ERA was nearly six and he almost tallied more walks than strikeouts. He was sent down to the minors late last year and it’s telling that the Jays still haven’t recalled him.
Things could break right for the Blue Jays; they might even make the playoffs. However, there is far too little room for error and things are already looking sour. At the time of this writing the Jays are 2-4 and just finished up a 13-0 loss to the depleted Red Sox. Don’t expect things to get much better as the season goes along.