Toronto Blue Jays President and CEO Mark Shapiro said he would wait 40 games before reflecting on the current performance of the team – a mark that finally arrived yesterday
That’s how long Toronto Blue Jays President and CEO Mark Shapiro gave himself to assess the early-season performance of this season’s team. 40 games to decide whether they are trending in the right direction, in need (and worthy) of reinforcements, or beyond the point of salvation.
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Yesterday marked the 40th game of the season for Toronto. Now it’s time for Shapiro to assess and, if necessary, to act. I don’t envy his situation.
Based on the team’s performance to date, you could make arguments for all three scenarios. The Jays would likely be leading the American League East right now if their bullpen didn’t have a penchant for surrendering late leads. Jesse Chavez is only the latest offender in this respect, but no one comes close to matching Brett Cecil’s achievements in the Futility Department this season.
Toss in a handful of cold bats and that six-game lead over the Blue Jays now enjoyed by the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox looks damn near insurmountable. Toronto will need an Alex Anthopoulos-like miracle to retake the division.
Under this scenario, it would make the most sense to begin looking ahead, not to the recent past or at the present. Expiring and expired talent on the books should be moved for future assets. Can you imagine the potential trade haul on Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, assuming they agree to move? The future looks bright.
On the other hand, a surprisingly dominant rotation and an always dependable defence suggest this may be the season after all. Add to the bullpen – build around young talents like Roberto Osuna, Joe Biagini, Chad Girodo, and Dustin Antolin – and you might as well start adding to the Jays’ trophy case. A final decision on Franklin Morales may represent a warning signal to the rest of the league.
Finally, there might be no reason (or cash) to bolster a team that is slowly emerging from its early-season slumber. After collecting 11 runs in three games against the San Francisco Giants last week, the Jays hit the Texas Rangers for 16 runs over the weekend (before offering up a lame effort last night). It looks like Troy Tulowitzki may have finally rediscovered his hitting stride with Russell Martin close behind him. Bautista looked good over the last two days notwithstanding a punch to the face. Once Josh Donaldson and Encarnacion turn the corner, it’ll be lights out for everyone else.
40 games – it’s an arbitrary number, but one Shapiro set for himself. We’ve seen glimpses of three different Jays teams over this span. Now we’re just waiting to hear what Shapiro has seen.