Welcome to the year of evaluation. In 2010, Alex Anthopoulos spent his first season as GM tweaking the roster, making trades, doing waiver wire claims, loading his farm system with talent through the draft and international signings and seeing what he truly needed to do to prepare for the future. AA used the off-season before 2011 to do a little purging…as in Vernon Wells‘ albatross of a contract. He rolled the dice on Frank Francisco, Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch. He acquired Rajai Davis and also hired John Farrell away from the hated Red Sox to man the ship after Cito Gaston retired.
In season, we saw the arrival of Colby Rasmus and the first number retired in team history: Roberto Alomar‘s number 12. We may not have been too competitive on the field but the fans bought into AA’s plan to build for 2013 and beyond. To be sustainable. He brought the minor league system from 25th best to 3rd best according to Baseball America. He drafted well and the prospect pool started to deepen. We, as fans, were hoping for the best but realistic that to fix what J.P. Ricciardi had left would take some time. A new philosophy always needs to bleed into the fabric of a team over time. So the 2011 Home Opener was a celebration of not only a new season but a new feel to our beloved Blue Jays.
Date: April 1, 2011
Location: Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game: Minnesota Twins vs. YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
Weather:…there is no weather inside a dome…ain’t figured that out yet? Hehe
We would see the maturing process of Ricky Romero reach it’s pinnacle in 2011 as he is named the number 1 starter for this team. With Romero and Brandon Morrow we saw two fixtures in the rotation. The next three were a mish mash of Brett Cecil, Kyle Drabek, Henderson Alvarez, Jesse Litch et al. The offence seemed primed for a great season with Jose Bautista blowing the cover off the ball, Adam Lind showing early promise and Brett Lawrie looking to impress. The pieces were falling into place at certain positions.
The game was a laugher from the start. We tallied fours runs in the first off a resurgent Carl Pavano and added six more before the start of the sixth. Romero was tossing donuts and looking every bit the number 1 he was designated to be. He would go 6.1 innings, 3 runs given up but only 1 earned and 7 strikeouts. Add to that the killer night of J.P. Arencibia (3-4, 2 runs, 5 RBIs, including 2 home runs). The game was well in hand as we trounced the Twins 13-3.
Coming off the type of surprise season the team had in 2010 this looked to be a great omen…an omen that went in the crapper as we finished 81-81…a mediocre line but underneath that failure to win were the seeds being planted of a winning team. We just needed to be patient. With a few more moves over the off-season this looked like a team being built properly, with no excuses. All we needed was to wait…