Since their success in back to back championships from 1992-1993, the Blue Jays have had the record of a heart beat; a quick rise, a drop, and repeat. With the Yankees past dynasty, wildcards were the only way in to the post season for Toronto. Now however, the Yankees are greying, Baltimore and Boston have been spotty, and the Rays are the Rays. Perhaps this is the year GM Alex Anthopoulos can bring playoff baseball back to Canada – just in time for the Rogers Centre’s 25th anniversary.
Anthopoulos was busy during last year’s offseason, bringing in Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Melky Cabrera, and a whole lot of hype. However, no matter how many roster improvements they brought in, the Blue Jays faltered on the mound.
Brendan Morrow was injured (again), Romero was demoted, and Dickey wasn’t all he was during his CL Young season (and likely never will be again at 39 — to be honest, even this year with Dickey, it’s best to follow the same philosophy of “don’t expect anything so you don’t get disappointed”).
Also, with a femur bone bruise to Jose Bautista, the team lacked its leader at the plate. The only highlight perhaps was Adam Lind; down in Triple A in 2012, he came back with a strong year of 23 homers and 67 RBI. Overall however, the Blue Birds finished 74-88, and last in the division; they originally were pegged to win the World Series in Vegas.
For 2014, Toronto had a sluggish start with a 12-15 record in April. Come May however…oh my lanta.
The Jays are now head of the AL East, with a 34-24 improvement. They have a 66% chance of taking the division title; their percentage at the start of the year was at the low 20’s. How is this happening?
Toronto has 82 dingers so far. The next squad is nine behind. All hail double E – Torontonians should mandatorily learn how to say MVP in Spanish.
Edwin Encarnacion hit 16 home runs for the month, setting a new franchise record, that also tied him in league play with Mantle, Bonds, McGwire, Killebrew and Bell (pretty nice company). He deservedly won the AL Player of the Month. The last time that went to a Blue Jay, it was Bautista in 2012. Encarnacion is second in homeruns with 19, and third in RBI with 50. The team overall is fifth in hits, in comparison to last year’s average of .252. OBP was .318 in 2013, and now is second in the league with .335.
The additions of Juan Francisco (a 1-2-3 punch with Edwin and Jose), Dioner Navarro (anything was better than JP Arencibia behind the plate) are impressive. Brett Lawrie still isn’t the player he was back in 2011, but has been decent so far. The Blue Jay’s offense wasn’t really the problem last year, but they have added Kevin Seitzer as their hitting coach – fans can certainly see improvements.
Second MVP for the Blue Jays’ success goes to 10-win-league-leading Mark Buehrle, who is sixth in the majors with a 2.10 ERA. Last year’s pitchers had a combined 4.25. Happ and Hutchison are doing their part, too. As for Dickey? In a recent radio interview discussing his time with the Jays, he gave his experience a C or B-. Well, that’s the grade we’ll give you too, R.A.!
People say bringing in John (Gibbons) for John (Farrell) will not help our situation, as Gibbons was at .500 in his prior tenure with the club. But if we couldn’t win with Farrell, who went on to win the entire show with Boston last year, our management situation doesn’t really matter.
Now by no means is Toronto guaranteed to win the World Series; they still have holes to fill. But as long as they stay healthy, the drought could end (which is now old enough to order a drink in the United States).