After the most exciting off-season in the majors, to say that the Blue Jays’ season was a disappointment is the understatement of the year. The year started off to a slow start, but that was okay, the team was just getting used to each other. In May we saw some glimmers of hope. Starting pitching improved, the bats were finally clicking, and the Jays were stringing together some wins. In June we had some of the first injuries, but also an 11-win streak that gave us all hope for the first post-season berth in two decades. Then July came along.
That’s where the Jays season really fell apart. The injuries started piling up, as did the losses. A 7-game losing streak completely negated the long win streak in the previous month. The starting rotation was an endless cycle of AA and AAA blood that just weren’t able to get the job done. August saw the demise of Bautista, Johnson, Cabrera, and Izturis’ seasons due to injury. Encarnacion and Rasmus followed soon after in September. We were all hoping the Jays would show John Farrell that he made a mistake by leaving Toronto for Boston, and instead his club clinched the AL East right in front of them.
So what now? Focus on the positive, look to the future, and evaluate the surpluses and deficits. After a brutal season, it’s hard to focus on the positives, but here they are; More wins than last year! Okay, it’s more like more win than last year. It’s hard to believe, but the Blue Jays did indeed have a better record than last year, but only slightly. Two solid starting pitchers. Dickey may not have repeated what he did in the 2012 season, but you’d be delusional to believe that he would. Dickey and Buehrle have both been extremely reliable this year. They each threw over 200 innings, which the Jays have been hard-pressed to get from their starters. They both stayed healthy and racked up a few wins. The young talent. I had the privilege of seeing Pillar, Gose, Sierra, and Goins in Buffalo this year. I’ve been a fan of Gose’s since he came up last year, but I’ve had my reservations about Sierra’s defensive abilities, doubts that were only solidified late in the season. Pillar and Goins have been pleasant surprises. Pillar started off cold with the bat, whereas Goins started off red-hot. Pillar got better at the plate, and Goins gave a more consistent and realistic performance. Both guys have been stellar in the field. They have made some rookie mistakes, but that is to be expected. I’m really excited about the potential that these guys have for the future.
It’s clear where the Blue Jays need to add some depth to their roster. Starting pitching is the first place. The Jays had the lowest number of wins from their starters than anyone in the majors, and this needs to change if we want the banner brought back north of the border. The free-agency market is looking a little thin going into this off-season, so Anthopolous will need to look to trades to get what the Jays need. This may mean giving up some of the big names, up-coming stars, and solid bullpen members (NOoOOoOoOoOoo). The Jays also need to look for some more consistency from their guy behind the plate, both defensively and offensively. JP Arencibia has just not done the job he’s needed to do this year, and I think he’s on a very short leash for next year. Consistency in the field is another huge issue. Remember that one game where the Blue Jays had 5 errors? Yeah, that can’t happen if the Jays want to win. Jose Reyes returned to true form after recovering from an injury late in the year, and he needs a second baseman that can keep up with his talent. The Jays may have already found that in Ryan Goins, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t look elsewhere, too.
This has been a brutal and heartbreaking season for Jays fans throughout Canada. I have faith that making the right moves in the off-season and a lot of hard work will get the Jays back into contention next season. Here’s to 2014!!