When March 30th rolls around, I think it’s fair to say we’re going to see a different vibe on the Toronto Blue Jays. Last year, the Jays were one of the more fun teams to watch over a broadcast. Sportsnet did a great job at capturing life within the dugout, with the likes of Dan Shulman routinely being enamored with the antics provided. The jacket, the sunflower seeds, the Barrio, you name it. With an influx of new talent, while also shipping out some of their own, these antics seen over the last few years are bound to change.
Two players often seen at the forefront of these antics, Teoscar Hernández and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., will be playing opening day for new clubs. Both of these players were consistent, upbeat, and a mostly positive energy source for the team. Both were believed to be key components of the heart of this team. Now with both of them gone, who are we left with?
Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho, expected to man center field and left field respectively, were brought in to offer many different perspectives to games. For one, both are exceptional defensively, in stark contrast to the former players. Both also hit left-handed, a skillset long sought after by the Blue Jays front office. The lesser spoke of items brought to the table by these two players are their intangibles. Both are described as hardnose, hustle-first, and no-nonsense players, a theme that could be seen as lacking on the Blue Jays last year.
To further enforce this shift from fun to serious, the Blue Jays hiring of Don Mattingly as a Bench Coach is worth noting. The former manager is known as running a tight ship, and lends credibility to the theory that the Blue Jays front office is looking for a different vibe this upcoming season. Looking into the dismissal of Charlie Montoyo early on in this past season could be indicative of this theory as well. To qualify Charles as a “player's manager” would be an understatement though there were comments from the likes of Bo Bichette stating as though they thought the change was necessary.
The promotion of John Schneider resulted in a 46-28 run, albeit still an inconsistent one. The call for order in the clubhouse, through both players and staff, could result in more consistent results for the Jays. While I’ll miss Teo and Lourdes, I’m thrilled to watch Kiermaier and Varsho patrol the outfield, and am looking forward to seeing a mentality of ball-player the Jays needed more of.
We’ll see a different vibe from the 2023 Blue Jays, and I’m here for it.