2015 Toronto Blue Jays: Proceed with Caution


I love the Toronto Blue Jays! This year, like every other, I await the pending season with great optimism and excitement. I’ve already explained why fans should be doing the same. This offense is set to explode and score a ton of runs, there are 6 very promising rookies who are about to burst onto the scene in a wide open American League East. Yes, on paper, this looks like one of the more exciting years in recent memories. But, if it is one thing that Blue Jays fans know more than anything it’s the sting of having a season flop and the disappointment of the long playoff drought continuing.

There are reasons why Blue Jays fans should be proceeding with caution and perhaps not booking their hotels in Toronto for October. With every reason to get excited about this team comes the flip side that is enough to make us pause.

The Offense

As I stated previously, the offense that the Blue Jays have compiled is arguably one of the more potent. 1-5, the Blue Jays have a line of intimidating hitters. But, what happens when the power threat is not there? We all know that home runs are a streaky thing to come by. There will inevitably be power outages. Add to that the old adage of hitting being contagious, what happens if the power goes out at the same time for the big boppers? With Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson expected to do the heavy lifting to score runs, is this team in trouble if it relies on the long ball?

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

Can this team still score runs? Last season, they were 5th in all of baseball in runs scored (723), 7th in average (.259) and 6th in OBP (.323). Will that continue? They do not have to be #1 in every category, but can rookies like Devon Travis and Dalton Pompey contribute to keep this team afloat during said power outages? As well, the Blue Jays are banking on Russell Martin’s great 2014 season when he’s not had such success in the past in the AL East.

Of course, the other, perhaps bigger concern is whether the hitters can stay in the lineup. As with every team during every season, the Blue Jays are going to have to avoid the injury bug. With the history of Jose Reyes, Encarnacion and Bautista, avoiding injury very well could be a tough task. If any of these big bats miss a significant amount of time, it could spell trouble.

The Youth Movement

The Blue Jays will start the 2015 season with 6 rookies: Devon Travis at 2B, Dalton Pompey at CF, Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna in the bullpen and Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez in the rotation. This is showing a lot of faith in a young group of players. These  kids will be expected to not only chip in, but play major roles in determining the success of this team.

It is not out of the realm of possibility that this could go well. Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi reminds us of this:

However, just because it has been done before, does not mean it will happen again. Having 6 rookies that will contribute in such important roles is risky. Consider that Castro and Osuna are 20 yrs old and haven’t A+. Travis hasn’t played above AA. Pompey flew through the system last season and only has 43 plate appearances at the big league level. And, Norris and Sanchez only appeared in brief relief appearances last season. There is not a wealth of experience behind any of these guys. While there is a lot of optimism and reason for excitement, this experiment could easily backfire.

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The Competition

The American League East is wide open. There is no clear front runner. With the exception of perhaps the Tampa Bay Rays, this division could be won by anyone. On paper, the Blue Jays look to be in good shape. However, it would be silly to think they’ll run away with things. The Yankees and Red Sox will be competitive despite their question marks. The Red Sox spent a lot of time and money addressing their areas of concern with the likes of Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez. The Yankees still have veteran bats. One could say they’re old, but we can’t overlook their effectiveness. They will be a very good defensive team too. The Orioles are still deep despite losing Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz.

And, we have to look ahead here. If things are close and these teams are in the hunt, we cannot overlook that they will pull the trigger to improve at the trade deadline. In particular, the Yankees and Red Sox have shown their desire to win and willingness to make things happen while the Blue Jays have shown restraint in the same situation. This year may be different, but there isn’t exactly a lot of evidence showing that the Blue Jays will make those moves along the way.

None of this is to suggest that the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays are heading for a season of doom and gloom. No, this is a very exciting team. They have a great mix of youth and veterans. They should be able to make some noise this year. However, there are obvious reasons to be cautious. This team is not perfect. There are many question marks and “what ifs”. While they appear to be in good shape right now, the risks inherent in the make up of this team could just as easily go frustratingly wrong.

There are lots of reason for Blue Jays fans to be very excited about the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays. However, we should also proceed with caution as we know the pang of disappointment all too well as we have endured what is now the longest active playoff absence in all of baseball.

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