For a while now my Dad has been asking me to write an article about good free agent pitching possibilities for the Blue Jays. He would tell me that my grandfather used to say “Good pitching wins games”. I wrote one recently about Clay Buchholz and emailed it to my Dad eagerly proclaiming: here’s one about a pitcher!
His response: I said to write one about a GOOD starting pitcher that will get signed.
Sorry, Dad, there are not going to be any.
You see, my father like many Blue Jays fans is what you would call a “fairweather fan”. He’s the type of fan that will plug a bunch of games on during the season if they are winning, and not a whole lot if they are not. He’s the fan that’s not going to understand this type of rebuild season. The fair weather fan looks at the roster being fielded, compares it to the ones they remember from a few years ago, and immediately lose interest.
The Blue Jays clearly had a lot of things going for them fanwise as early as two seasons ago. It seemed like almost everyone you saw on the streets was wearing a Jays hat. I love striking up baseball talk with anyone who will, and the number of times I’d ask someone wearing a Jays hat about their love for the team for them to say:” Oh it’s just a hat I grabbed at a game, I’m not a huge fan” was amazing. The Blue Jays were finally hip!
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After years of lower brand appeal, the Blue Jays were the cool thing to be associated with for a while. My wife’s work had Blue Jays jersey days during the playoffs and she insisted that nearly everyone in an office of hundreds participated in some way. The Blue Jays had everything going their way.
A bloated payroll tied up with aging veteran contracts caused payroll restrictions last season and we only got minor signings like Granderson and Solarte’s. Nevertheless, Blue Jays management was insistent last season that the Jays would compete, and that got some of the fair weathers to show up at first. As the season went on it became apparent that the Jays were no longer very good anymore and the fair weather fan exodus began. Attendance numbers dropped significantly by the end of the season.
With Ross Atkins saying to reporters yesterday that the Jays are still in the market for pitching help, or defensive minded players, it leaves one with the idea that even if there are some veteran superstar players that have their value drop significantly as the off-season wears on, the Blue Jays won’t likely be in on signing them. Add in the fact that the Jays chose to eat all of Tulowitzki’s 2 years remaining on his contract this year, and its easy to see; there isn’t much money left.
So this is it.
A roster that could literally land the Blue Jays in the bottom of the AL East standings.
One that will likely get worse as the off-season moves on and additional veteran players are moved for whatever Jays management can scrape back for them. There will be no name brand player signings by the Blue Jays this off-season. No “Good starting pitchers who win games” for Dad.
And the fair weather fans will leave in droves.
But…the fans who leave will likely come back if the Blue Jays start winning again. That’s just how fair weather fans work. I’m as excited as anyone for Vlad Guerrero Jr this season, but he’s only one player. We have seen before that one player isn’t enough for Toronto Blue Jays fans (see. Halladay, Delgado, Wells)
Winning is one thing, that can invigorate even the meekest of fan bases. But what gets Toronto’s fair weathers going is big signings, and unfortunately this off-season there isn’t going to be any. There’s not going to be any smoke or mirrors from Jays management, with any lame claims to compete. So get ready to stretch out again in the lower bowl at Rogers Centre, or pick your own seat in the 500’s, because the fair weathers won’t be there in 2019.