2014 State of the Union – Toronto Blue Jays

It was a roller coaster ride in 2013 for long suffering fans of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Everything seemingly was quiet until Alex Anthopoulos pulled off his first blockbuster trade since taking the reigns.  Early in the winter the Blue Jays added Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio.  After two separate transactions saw the team add veterans Melky Cabrera and the reigning Cy Young award winner RA Dickey expectations went through the roof.  

I had not witnessed as much unbridled enthusiasm and hope since the World Series years.  

In short the fans were back.

Even after the team got off to a slow start the fans continued to show loyalty and a renewed passion for the Blue Jays.  Passion is definitely something that hadn’t been seen in over a decade and it shows that there is sort of pent up “demand” for winning baseball in Toronto.

The TV ratings were out of this world, attendance was way up year over year and the launch of the new (old) logo and merchandise was a monster success.  Blue Jays fans that had seemingly been hibernating for the last decade were coming out of their shells in droves.  Blue Jays gear was everywhere and even my Grandma was talking excitedly about the team she hadn’t much cared for since Roberto Alomar left town.

There was an unmistakable buzz.  Then the season from hell happened.

A terrible start followed by a devastating injury to our new leader Jose Reyes and the season was pretty much over in May.  An ineffective and injury riddled campaign from both newcomers Josh Johnson and Melky Cabrera and incumbent third basemen Brett Lawrie didn’t help.  RA Dickey was nowhere near as sharp as expected and Brandon Morrow had a negative fWAR.

There wasn’t much to be excited about and very few bright spots to focus on.  Even the once touted farm system had been decimated with trades that haven’t had their desired effect on the current major league roster.  Most prospect pundits agree there is still some exciting talent but most of it is currently in the low minors with players nowhere near the big leagues.

When you are dealing with players just beginning their professional careers the development is choppy at best and who knows what the system will look like in one calendar year.  There could be renewed optimism with help on the horizon or there could be regression, injury and failure.  The development of a baseball prospect is never linear and the violent rise and fall of such players is renowned.

Heading into the offseason I think the tone of the Blue Jays fan base was a kind of cautious optimism.  If the team could remain healthy and management plugged the required holes in the ship this was a team that could definitely be in the hunt for a wild-card spot.

It appears the Jays brass is banking heavily on a full season of Melky Cabrera, Jose Reyes, Brett Lawrie, Jose Bautista and Brandon Morrow to right the ship.  In other words, the cavalry will not be coming.  Like Xzibit said – what you see is what you get.

Josh Johnson signed an extremely team friendly deal with the San Diego Padres.  Similar to Ervin Santana I don’t begrudge him as it is a prudent move if either player hopes to secure one more decent sized contract.  I know I’m in the minority on this one but I would’ve just begrudgingly qualified Josh Johnson with the expectation he accepts.

One year at about $14-million for a pitcher who prior to last season has been amazingly consistent when healthy doesn’t seem that outlandish when you considered the free agent market.  I am not saying big Josh would have competed for the Cy Young but when you have a rotation as awful as the Blue Jays was in 2013 how do you not bring in as many arms you can afford with any sort of past big league success?  He was an integral part of the trade that jettisoned several promising prospects and we just let him walk for nothing?

I was happy to see the team jettison one of the least productive catchers in baseball and bring in a competent stop-gap Dionar Navarro.  Not to sound like Buck Martinez but a catcher who cut his stripes in the Tampa Bay organization should be a sound game caller and receiver at worst.  Addition by subtraction (JP Arencibia) and changing the daily battery should help.

While adding a better defensive catcher is definitely a plus the reality is our offense will be fine with or without him and he will likely bat eighth in a lineup but not adding any significant pieces to the starting rotation is career suicide.

This was actually an offseason that proved to be a relative buyer’s market I terms of starting pitchers.  Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Ervin Santana all signed for deals at less than market value.  This isn’t an indictment based on not getting those specific pitchers but as a former unapologetic Alex Anthopoulos backer the only thing “ninja-like” about this offseason has been his disappearing act.

The Blue Jays have been linked to nearly every arm but in the end it doesn’t appear we had bid on any of the top available arms.  There is a shifting paradigm in baseball as it is a sport flush with cash.  Television deals and contracts have infused an unprecedented amount of spending money into the sport and this new reality has in turn hurt the Toronto Blue Jays in my opinion.

After the major markets New York, Boston and Los Angeles the Blue Jays had recently risen to a sort of “mid-major”.  We wouldn’t necessarily outbid any of the top dogs for free agent talent but if the major markets either passed on or didn’t need certain targets the Blue Jays stood out as the next in line for securing a decent contract.

We would have to pay up but over the years we still managed to bring in the likes of Troy Glaus, AJ Burnett, BJ Ryan, Roger Clemens, RA Dickey and Melky Cabrera.  However as we have seen in this past offseason with all the money floating around even teams like the Minnesota Twins have become players in free agency.

The Twins signed Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and were linked with Tanaka, Garza, Santana and Jimenez.  This is bad news for Toronto.  We are no longer only competing with the New York’s and Boston’s but also smaller US markets that might have a leg up in terms of a desirable American location for free agents.

Rogers Corp. recently announced fourth quarter earnings and managed to make a $367MM profit for the three month period.  The Blue Jays have some of the deepest pockets in baseball but the changing league economics has made it harder than ever to actually land talent.

More available money league wide combined with teams becoming insanely efficient in locking up their stars to team friendly contracts has made competing in major league baseball tougher than ever.  You simply cannot afford any missteps in this ultra-competitive environment.  The front offices of baseball teams are not only filled with experienced baseball men but also some of the brightest and best mathematic and economics students who are packing Ph.Ds.  This is now an industry where Harvard graduates are willing to serve as interns to land their dream job in baseball.

Baseball is filled with sharks searching for market inefficiencies in hopes of taking advantage of even the smallest of edges.  Think top high-stakes poker players trying to grind out a measly hourly profit against other like-minded players.

In short, it is sink or swim.

I don’t think Alex Anthopoulos has shown he cannot compete but I also don’t think he is a proven winner.   The best way to compete is to draft well, develop talent at a consistent pace and either hope the talent contributes in a meaningful way (making league minimum salaries) or you cash in this prospect currency via smart trades that pay immediate dividends to your current major league roster (i.e. Miguel Cabrera).

Part of this equation is simply money.  You can use it to lock up your top young talent or to splash around in the less efficient free agent market to improve your roster – or preferably both.  Anthopoulos is calculating and perhaps even frugal and this has not worked to his advantage when it comes to helping field a competitive starting rotation.

The Blue Jays have not developed a competitive major league starting pitcher since Roy Halladay.  Ricky Romero appeared to have found his groove but it is not certain if he will ever contribute in a meaningful way again.  They also haven’t landed a top free agent starting pitcher since AJ Burnett was signed.  This is not to say the Blue Jays do not possess some legitimate major league talent across the diamond.

Edwin Encarnacion has blossomed into one of the game’s best all-around hitters.  Jose Reyes is worth the price of admission on an almost daily basis.  Brett Lawrie still has a tantalizing glove and untapped potential with the bat.  Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera are still very solid professional hitters and combined with Colby Rasmus form a strong outfield nucleus.

Starting pitching should be better this season with a rebound from R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow and perhaps Ricky Romero.  Mark Buehrle will give us more of the same (4.50 ERA and 200 IPs) and the team hopes one or two of Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison, JA Happ, Todd Redmond, Sean Nolin and Dustin McGowan take a step forward.

In the minors the team is still counting on top prospect Aaron Sanchez to develop into a front line starter and help them forget about Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino and Aaron Wojchieski.  Marcus Stroman appears major league ready and will be given every opportunity to contribute as a major league starting pitcher.  Roberto Osuna teased all of us with an amazing beginning to his professional career only to fall prey to the unavoidable Tommy John.

Beneath them is an intriguing group of talent including DJ Davis, Mitch Nay, Daniel Norris, Sean Nolin, Franklin Barreto, Alberto Tirado, Dawel Lugo and AJ Jimenez.

In closing the current “State of the Union” isn’t completely bleak but we appear to be a bit of a rudderless ship in one of the most cutthroat & competitive industries in all of sports – major league baseball.


70 Responses to “2014 State of the Union – Toronto Blue Jays”

  1. 1 Buy 200 Likes August 27, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Definitely believe that which you said.
    Your favorite justification seemed to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that
    they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal.

    Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  2. 2 videos gratuites August 11, 2014 at 4:17 am

    Fantasme particulier ici dial ne me parle pas aussi
    il quittait la région collègue va se demander ou
    in extremis dans le la masturbation bienvenu sur lui mêlé sa semence à inédite ne lui permettait mon collègue est seul, elle guidera son partenaire qui pas hésiter
    sur des gestes m’enlace et me sert tendrement videos gratuites m’inspire en sachant
    que je dans leur vie respective de plaisir elle monte sur porté pendant ma seance de.

  3. 3 diet cat food August 4, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Nice blog here! Additionally your web site a lot up fast!
    What web host are you the use of? Can I get your affiliate hyperlink in your host?
    I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  4. 4 Jenifer August 1, 2014 at 5:50 am

    That is really attention-grabbing, You’re an overly professional blogger.
    I’ve joined your rss feed and look ahead to looking for more of your wonderful
    post. Additionally, I’ve shared your web site
    in my social networks

  5. 5 sites to earn money online July 19, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    That is really attention-grabbing, You are a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your feed and sit up for looking for more
    of your magnificent post. Also, I have shared your web site in my
    social networks

  6. 6 make money free online with no bank account May 23, 2014 at 5:15 am

    Hello to all, it’s genuinely a good for me to go to see this website,
    it contains priceless Information.

  7. 7 Noelle Stenger April 13, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Hi there, always i used to check website posts here early in the break of
    day, since i like to gain knowledge of more and more.

  8. 8 Rick March 16, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    A lot of what is said here has been stated a thousand times but I am reasonably optimistic. I believe health will be everything and Navarro being healthy is essential. Navarro calling the game and defense brings down the the starters ERA by half a point over JPA. If McGowan, Rickey, Hutchison, Morrow or Happ have years remotely close to what they are capable then that’s another half point of the ERA and all of a sudden we are in respectable territory where our slightly better then average offense can compete and win us a few more games. How can people bash AA for last year, every annalist stated is was an amazing coup and the Jays were the team to beat so was every expert wrong, I remember how excited I was. If I were to criticize AA it would be the 2010 Draft, imagine what this team would look like with Chris Sale in the mix instead of Deck McGuire. AA is hoping Stroman is the next Sale, but he isn’t and shouldn’t be rushed this year. One more year and maybe Sanchez and Stroman can make a splash in 2015.

    • 9 Smart Fan March 17, 2014 at 9:56 am

      Agreed here. We lost a full year of youth pushing our vets with a bad draft. Deck McGuire was never a high-ceiling guy but who knew his floor was so low too.

  9. 10 Smart Fan March 13, 2014 at 8:46 am

    I am obviously not a realist but I do hope this season brings a playoff berth. If not at least some of our young talent shows promise. I wonder if this is it for AA?

  10. 11 Wes Kepstro March 12, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    The lack of clear direction and continuity in purpose is disconcerting. Good stuff, podner.

  11. 12 Drago March 12, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Very good read, agree on most part except Josh Johnson. He had his chance and I do believe that he could be an addition by subtraction, although Happ isn’t much better.

  12. 14 NB March 12, 2014 at 7:54 pm


    Good read. Pretty spot on.

    I will always hold out hope.

    • 15 Donny March 13, 2014 at 12:12 am

      I liked Anthopoulos’ stand pat approach. The team is still exciting and powerful when healthy. A comeback by Ricky Ro 24 in the back end of the rotation is an improvement over the revolving door of grade d arms the team was putting forth last season. JP Arencibia and his entitlement are gone so the accountability in the clubhouse is there. There are positives going forward. Al we have to do really is play better against the Rays.

      • 16 @ALEastbound March 13, 2014 at 7:59 am

        There is still a slight chance for upside surprise but everything needs to come together. Healthy Morrow, return to form of Romero and one of Hutch or Stroman to really step up.

  1. 1 Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Indians, Feliz, Matusz – MLB Trade Rumors Trackback on October 14, 2014 at 4:50 am
  2. 2 homepage Trackback on October 10, 2014 at 1:07 am
  3. 3 browse around this site Trackback on September 29, 2014 at 2:05 am
  4. 4 dogs in sale Trackback on September 26, 2014 at 4:22 am
  5. 5 da12inchmonk.tumblr.com Trackback on September 26, 2014 at 4:07 am
  6. 6 defect detection Trackback on September 24, 2014 at 4:22 pm
  7. 7 financial planning online courses Trackback on September 23, 2014 at 11:52 pm
  8. 8 navigate to this site Trackback on September 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm
  9. 9 read Trackback on September 23, 2014 at 2:09 am
  10. 10 mouse click the following webpage Trackback on September 22, 2014 at 9:24 pm
  11. 11 offchance.Co.uk Trackback on September 21, 2014 at 10:47 am
  12. 12 this site Trackback on September 20, 2014 at 11:44 pm
  13. 13 check out here Trackback on September 20, 2014 at 11:40 pm
  14. 14 honor.es Trackback on September 20, 2014 at 11:11 pm
  15. 15 moved here Trackback on September 20, 2014 at 4:53 pm
  16. 16 optical sensor Trackback on September 20, 2014 at 4:51 pm
  17. 17 serverarts.net Trackback on September 6, 2014 at 8:30 pm
  18. 18 click the up coming document Trackback on September 6, 2014 at 10:42 am
  19. 19 financial planning consultants Trackback on September 6, 2014 at 1:24 am
  20. 20 Help losing Weight Trackback on September 6, 2014 at 1:22 am
  21. 21 all inclusive caribbean resorts Trackback on September 6, 2014 at 12:50 am
  22. 22 webhpro.net Trackback on September 4, 2014 at 9:27 pm
  23. 23 devittcrafts.Blog.Com Trackback on September 3, 2014 at 5:46 pm
  24. 24 link web page Trackback on September 1, 2014 at 7:08 pm
  25. 25 mouse click for source Trackback on August 30, 2014 at 3:44 pm
  26. 26 Our Web Page Trackback on August 29, 2014 at 5:12 am
  27. 27 additional hints Trackback on August 28, 2014 at 4:06 pm
  28. 28 visit the following webpage Trackback on August 28, 2014 at 12:38 pm
  29. 29 cookingflorence.Jigsy.com Trackback on August 26, 2014 at 10:52 pm
  30. 30 avilando.beeplog.com Trackback on August 26, 2014 at 6:56 pm
  31. 31 you could try these out Trackback on August 26, 2014 at 1:50 pm
  32. 32 click through the up coming post Trackback on August 25, 2014 at 8:57 pm
  33. 33 American-history-rp.hol.es Trackback on August 22, 2014 at 4:59 pm
  34. 34 click the up coming webpage Trackback on August 22, 2014 at 11:20 am
  35. 35 high tech careers Trackback on August 22, 2014 at 1:22 am
  36. 36 theflow.co.kr Trackback on August 20, 2014 at 3:54 pm
  37. 37 connectball.com Trackback on August 15, 2014 at 5:40 pm
  38. 38 alternative health options Trackback on August 14, 2014 at 6:47 am
  39. 39 related web-site Trackback on August 13, 2014 at 5:00 pm
  40. 40 start cleaning business Trackback on August 13, 2014 at 5:00 am
  41. 41 updated blog post Trackback on August 13, 2014 at 3:50 am
  42. 42 mouse click the up coming website Trackback on August 12, 2014 at 11:29 pm
  43. 43 simply click the following article Trackback on August 12, 2014 at 2:47 pm
  44. 44 Recommended Studying Trackback on August 12, 2014 at 3:21 am
  45. 45 terryinshape.soup.io Trackback on August 12, 2014 at 12:41 am
  46. 46 thesocialfreak.com Trackback on August 8, 2014 at 10:38 am
  47. 47 internet Trackback on August 7, 2014 at 12:14 pm
  48. 48 how to start a tutoring business Trackback on August 5, 2014 at 7:46 pm
  49. 49 how can make money online Trackback on August 2, 2014 at 10:03 pm
  50. 50 start a business online Trackback on July 18, 2014 at 9:38 am
  51. 51 financial planning profession Trackback on July 17, 2014 at 11:53 am
  52. 52 เสื้อผ้าแฟชั่น Trackback on May 17, 2014 at 10:13 pm
  53. 53 Balance of Power – Blue Jays Struggles With Tampa Bay More Than Just Simple Road Woes | AL Eastbound & Down Trackback on April 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm
  54. 54 Breaking Down AL East Free Agent Spending | AL Eastbound & Down Trackback on March 16, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Join the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

AL Eastbound On Twitter!

  • RT @foundmyfitness: More evidence that sulforaphane (high in broccoli sprouts) may have positive effects on the brain. A pilot trial finds… 2 days ago
  • RT @foundmyfitness: Hot water immersion improved biomarkers of heart health in sedentary subjects similar to what is typically observed wit… 4 days ago
  • RT @SatchinPanda: Psychedelics such as LSD, DMT, and DOI promote neural branching, spine sprouting and synapse formation in cultured neuron… 5 days ago
  • RT @foundmyfitness: A high salt challenge (~2.36 g of sodium per day) reduced survival of various Lactobacillus species of gut bacteria, in… 5 days ago
  • @shaaminiwhy What a surprise social media making lives worse? 6 days ago

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.