Toronto Blue Jays managerJohn Gibbons
hangs his head in shame after yet another mindboggling defeat to the Chicago White Sox. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Last night was game number 63. That’s about 40% of the way through the season. Crazier things have happened with 99 games to go, but this isn’t the beginning of the season anymore. At this point in the year, you should have a good grasp of the direction a team is heading. Everybody is warmed up. Everybody is stretched out. Every player should be playing at their best by now.
Over the last couple months, writers from Jays Journal, to DJF, to Blue Bird Banter, to CBS Sports, and even a blogger or 2 at ESPN have written about the high hopes and underachievements of this Blue Jays ballclub. Even with the bats coming to life, the Jays are still nine games under .500. How bad is it? Fifth worst record in all of baseball. The Jays pitching staff has given up the second most runs in all of baseball. If you want perspective on that, here goes: The Blue Jays acquired the Miami Marlins AND New York Mets BEST pitchers and both those teams have given up LESS runs than the Toronto Blue Jays.
Last night’s loss to the Chicago White Sox epitomizes the kind of season Toronto is having. Over the last month, the Jays have taken series wins from some tough teams: Boston, San Francisco, and Texas to name a few. They even split a couple of series with the likes Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Even both of those series could have easily been won if not for the kind of game that most of us witnessed last night in Chicago (and I’m not talking about the fog.) Losing games in nuclear meltdown type fashion isn’t going to bring any club anywhere other than maybe to the proverbial division cellar. In San Diego, another series against an inferior team like the White Sox, the same thing occurred; blunders cost the Blue Jays valuable wins.
The Jekyll-Hyde comparison is probably one of the most overused comparisons in all of baseball, but that’s the nature of this group of 25. One could argue that injuries have played a role in the Jays’ failures, but any baseball fan could have told you injuries would occur with this team. Most times, you cannot plan for injuries, but this team probably could have (and maybe should have.) The history for many of the players is staggering. It’s because of injuries that Toronto actually has a Jekyll-Hyde persona. The more scathing reality is the Blue Jays will never gel because the team’s best players will be unable to stay on the field, at the same time.
That’s especially true for the likes of Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Brett Lawrie, Sergio Santos, and Brandon Morrow. It gets to a point however, where injuries can no longer be the scapegoat. Alex Dineley wrote an amazing article back in May. It had been on the minds for some of us at Jays Journal as to why some teams like the Atlanta Braves, St.Louis Cardinals, and Oakland Athletics keep churning out great, healthy young pitchers, and some teams like the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, and Toronto Blue Jays, all teams that draft a lot of highly talented young arms, cannot.
What can you do with this club? GM Alex Anthopoulos cannot bring in the right players to create a winning team. The Jay’s farm system is a facade thanks to offseason trades he made. There’s no talent in the minors ready to replace the talent the Blue Jays stand to lose by blowing up the parent club. The Jays don’t seem to have the aptitude to develop young arms anyway (check out the major arm injury history to some of our youngest pitchers. It’s one of the most alarming in all of baseball.)
A big Blue Jays fan and Twitter follower asked me this question last night in response to my tweet:
That question spawned this article. How do you fix it? Honestly Sherri, you blow the whole damn thing up. Everything, top to bottom! If you’re Anthopoulos, you panic… because this season is going to cost you your job! Moving Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells were shrewd moves, but the nice aura of light surrounding AA from those trades, is fading. In case most Jays fans forgot (and it sounds like they have,) AA traded Halladay and brought in the likes of Kyle Drabek (currently injured and ineffective when healthy), Travis d’Arnaud (most promising prospect in years AA traded away to the Mets for R.A. Dickey), and essentially Anthony Gose (Michael Taylor was acquired as part of the Halladay deal, then traded to Oakland for Brett Wallace. Wallace was later traded to Houston for Gose.) None of them have made an impact in the four years since Halladay was shipped out.
The Wells trade to the Angels in 2011 brought in payroll relief and flexibility. What did AA do? He spent the money to acquire Reyes, Dickey, Johnson, Josh Thole, Emilio Bonifacio and Mark Buehrle. He also spent Toronto’s farm system.
So now after that valuable lesson in history, this is where we’re at. This is why heads need to roll. You fix this by bringing in somebody outside of the Toronto organization that is familiar with what a ballclub needs to be successful. You consider the minds of and coaches from places like Tampa Bay, St.Louis, Atlanta, Texas, Arizona, and Washington. You even consider trying to overpay for the minds of GMs Frank Wren (Atlanta), Mike Rizzo (Washington), and John Mozeliak (St.Louis.) They will get you the coaching staff you need and have a proven track record in drafting and acquiring talent. That’s how you fix this club. You push the panic button, you fire everybody, you start over with somebody proven, and you go from there.
Two weeks ago, we were writing articles about the Blue Jays in the playoffs? The playoffs? Are you kidding me! We’re going to write about the playoffs? In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane says “Now is not the time to panic… that comes later.” We were saying that back in April. It’s mid-June. Later is here. Push that button!