Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Offseason Review: Toronto Blue Jays

2010-2011 AL Home Run Champ Jose Bautista
Toronto's been a pretty strange place for the past couple years. The city has been mired in baseball boredom and mediocrity, finishing nowhere above third in their division every season since 2006.  Last year a small spark of promise revealed itself in out-of-nowhere MVP candidate Jose Bautista. Bautista had been waived and traded by the Pirates, Rays, Royals, Orioles and Mets before finding a home with Toronto in August of 2008. In 2010, after never having a season with more than 16 home runs, Jose Bautista hit FIFTY FOUR FUCKING HOME RUNS, leading the entire American League in that category.

Finally the team had someone to build around, and it looks like that's what's going on now. The moves have been quiet, but impressive. They did take a stab at trying to get Japanese ace Yu Darvish but fell short to the Rangers. They also were rumored to be in on the Fielder sweepstakes, but with Bautista's surprise surge and Canadian power threat Brett Lawrie coming over from the Brewers for Shaun Marcum, the front office decided not to invest heavily in more slugging. Moves like that are wise, and indicate that the Jays are biding their time for a precise time to strike. Strategy like this is crucial when you're playing in the hardest division in baseball.
Brett "I HIT BALLS GOOD" Lawrie
The hardest impact the Jays made was to shore up the ol' bullpen. They extended Casey Janssen who posted an impressive 2.26 ERA over 55 IP last year. They acquired Francisco Cordero off of free agency, and he'll be setting up for closer Sergio Santos who was acquired in a trade for Nestor Molina from the idiotic White Sox. I'll get more in to how I feel about that when I review the Sox offseason, but I wanted to give props to the Jays for some of the voodoo shit they've been pulling off the past couple years. First expunging the stench of Vernon Wells contract for catcher Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera, and now the acquisition of a really, really good looking youngish arm in Sergio Santos. I'm not sure what baffles me more, the Jays luck/ability to manipulate trades or the teams they trade with being insistently counter-intuitive with the concept of trade value.

The Jays still have a ways to go. They extended the shaky Brandon Morrow who has yet to live up to expectation. Kyle Drabek showed a whole lot of promise in the minors and showed questionable results in the bigs, but has a while to shake it off. Patience is key. The franchise looks on the up and up and the management appears to be competent enough to keep them in that direction. I'm gonna guess the the Jays finish five games above five hundred this year. Expect to see a whole lot more dingers up in the Rogers Centre this year.

And a whole lot more goofy freakouts too.

Oh and I almost forgot that, maybe more important than anything else, the Jays got tired of their weird extreme determined Blue Jay logo and brought back this classic. Can't go wrong.

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